Ron Atkinson
Ron Atkinson has issued a warning to Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho Getty Images

Former Manchester United boss Ron Atkinson has advised Jose Mourinho against turning Old Trafford into his "personal fiefdom". Atkinson, who led United between 1981 and 1986, worries Mourinho could create a "claustrophobic"­ ­environment at the club.

United have lost their last three games, against Manchester City, Feyenoord and Watford respectively.

After each loss Mourinho, has cited refereeing mistakes for their defeat – prompting Atkinson to issue a warning to the Portuguese.

"There's nothing wrong with being fiercely protective of your players, but that doesn't mean you have to antagonise everybody else," the ex-United boss said, according to The Mirror. "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."

Atkinson admitted to being particularly shocked by United's sub-par performance in the Manchester derby, which they lost 2-1. "I was surprised by the way United played in the derby," he said of United's performance.

"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. For the first 10 minutes, they would have announced themselves, and tried to break up the little ­triangles City were forming, and I didn't see that in Jose's team in the derby."