Wolves boss Gary O’Neil says elite referees manager Jon Moss told him he “could not believe” his side were not given a penalty at Manchester United.
The hosts won 1-0 at Old Trafford thanks to Raphael Varane’s header.
O’Neil was furious his team did not get a late penalty when United keeper Andre Onana crashed into Sasa Kalajdzic and failed to make contact with the ball.
“Jon Moss said it was a blatant penalty and should have been given – fair play to him, he apologised,” said O’Neil.
“I have spent a lot of time with him today to understand the new guidelines, trying not to get myself booked in the first game, which I have failed in.
“But fair play to Jon for coming out and saying it was a clear and obvious error – he couldn’t believe the on-field referee didn’t give it and can’t believe VAR didn’t intervene.
“It probably made me feel worse, actually, because you know you are right. I feel worse about leaving with nothing. Live, I was told they didn’t think it was a clear and obvious error.”
Moss, who was appointed general manager of England’s elite referees within Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) in April, sought out O’Neil between his broadcast and written media obligations.
It is understood PGMOL chief Howard Webb also contacted Wolves officials after the game to apologise for the mistake.
Simon Hooper was the on-field referee who did not punish the incident while Michael Salisbury was the VAR.
In April, Salisbury was stood down for a game after he did not intervene to award Brighton a penalty in a defeat at Tottenham while also acting as the VAR.
Former leading referee Webb spoke before the season began about his desire to drive up standards and reduce high-profile mistakes.
Onana disagreed with O’Neil and Moss, saying the incident was just a natural coming together of players.
Asked if it was a penalty, the Cameroon international said: “No, goalkeepers make decisions, sometimes you are right, sometimes you are not.
“I made a decision and I am responsible for everything. For me it was contact between two big guys and nothing happened. But for us, the most important thing was to win and I am happy for the victory.
“Of course I was confident [a penalty would not be given].”
United manager Erik ten Hag said “it can always happen” when asked if he was concerned whether Hooper was going to the monitor as he moved towards the side of the pitch.
In fact, the referee was going to book O’Neil for his protest, in line with the zero-tolerance policy for any managerial aggression towards officials this season.
“I spoke to Howard Webb every Sunday last season around decisions that didn’t go our way,” said ex-Bournemouth manager O’Neil. “I felt it was attached to us being Bournemouth.
“I don’t think officials are favouring one side, I just think it is human nature if there is something you are not quite sure on, you, me, everybody would be impacted by the Old Trafford crowd and the fact it is Manchester United. But VAR should be able to give a penalty.”