RON ATKINSON wants Jose Mourinho to take the shackles off in a bid to bring the Premier League title back to Old Trafford.
Big Ron thinks new £75-million signing Romelu Lukaku should be paired up front with Marcus Rashford to go and terrorise defences.
That could certainly alleviate some of those costly draws, especially at home, which did so much damage to United’s league form last season.
In his first year in charge of Manchester United, Mourinho proved he could still deliver trophies as the Community Shield, League Cup and Europa League were collected.
But now the Portuguese will know that the Reds must improve on their sixth-place finish and be challenging for the title once again.
Atkinson twice won the FA Cup during his five years as United boss in the 1980s, but without landing the holy grail of the league title, he was eventually shown the door.
So he’s calling for Mourinho to be more attack-minded. Not only would that be more in keeping with United’s great traditions, but it could garner those extra points that can make all the difference.
“Lukaku is certainly going to get a lot of chances,” says Big Ron. “I hope Jose plays him up front with Rashford.
“I want to see a team go back to playing two up front. Defenders have forgotten how to deal with that sort of threat.
“Centre-halves are now accustomed to playing against sides with just one striker and they are having a field day.
“All of a sudden, whenever anyone throws two up front, these defenders don’t look comfortable at all.
“United will be hard to beat, no question. But they need to convert those draws into wins.
“For them to win the title, Lukaku will have to get 20-plus goals in the league. But first of all, he has to replace the goals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better finisher at United than Ibra. A lot of strikers need two, three or four chances. I was more surprised when he missed one than when he scored.
“So Lukaku has huge boots to fill in that respect. But he’s young, getting better and he will get enough chances.
“There are areas in his game for him to improve, like his movement and his general team play. But his big job at Old Trafford is to get on the end of things and stick them away.”
Atkinson can’t look beyond either United or neighbours City for the title. But if one of them could land Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, that could make all the difference next May.
“I can’t split City and United,” he states. “It’s Manchester versus the rest.
“It’s going to be an interesting contrast of styles. Jose’s way of playing has always been: ‘Let’s be hard to beat’.
“On the other hand, Pep Guardiola sometimes neglects the defensive side of things on the premise that all-out attack will conquer any defence and they will win more games like that.
“But if either City or United sign Sanchez, I would make them favourites. He is that good. I’m surprised Barcelona haven’t tried to sign him back.
“He is the best player out there who can play wide or in attack. I thought Luis Suarez was terrific – but Sanchez is as near to him as there is.”
RON ATKINSON was speaking at the 2017 Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship at Nailcote Hall. www.britishpar3.com