Jose Mourinho's 'us against the world' tactics won't work at Manchester United, warns Ron Atkinson

Mourinho blamed the referee for United's loss to Watford

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The Independent Football

Former Manchester United boss Ron Atkinson has warned Jose Mourinho that his ‘us against the world’ tactics will not wash at Old Trafford.

United suffered their third defeat in a week on Sunday when they succumbed to a 3-1 defeat at Watford, leaving Mourinho furious with referee Michael Oliver.

 The former Chelsea boss was adamant play should have been stopped for a foul on Anthony Martial in the build-up to Watford’s opening goal – a challenge that caused the Frenchman to be substituted with a head injury.

It is the second time this season Mourinho has blamed a referee decision for a defeat, with the United manager furious that his side were not awarded a penalty and Claudio Bravo a red card after the Manchester City goalkeeper’s dangerous challenge on Wayne Rooney.

But Atkinson says Mourinho cannot play the blame game at United and if he tries it then the club could become very claustrophobic very quickly.

Speaking ahead of the launch of his autobiography, Atkinson said: “I have never been a huge fan of this siege mentality he brings to his clubs.

Martial appeared to be concussed after a clash of heads with Janmaat in the 27th minute (Getty)

“There’s nothing wrong with being fiercely protective of your players, but that doesn’t mean you have to antagonise everybody else.

"I don’t think that approach would work at Manchester United because it can lead to the club becoming claustrophobic.

"It is a global brand and you cannot run it as your personal fiefdom. United is an ­expansive club, it’s a club of the people. Telling everyone that ‘It’s us against the world’ doesn’t really wash, because United have lots of friends – they probably have more fans on the planet than anyone else.

“Jose has an engaging personality and it would be a shame if he got sidetracked by siege mentality and taking on the world.”

After a positive start to the season, United came crashing back down to earth with the home loss to City and Atkinson was critical of the naivety of Mourinho’s tactics when facing Pep Guardiola’s side.

“I was surprised by the way United played in the derby,” Atkinson told the Mirror.

"All credit to City, who look phenomenal, but I thought Jose would have set up his team to play higher up the pitch.

“It would have been an eye-opener for him to see the way City went about it, with David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne finding pockets of space.

“United were never outnumbered in midfield, but they were ­outmanoeuvred. You can’t imagine that scenario if Roy Keane and Paul Scholes had been playing.”