Atkinson, still affectionately known throughout the game as 'Big Ron', sat in the hot-seat for five years in the 80s, sprinkling his own unique brand of stardust over a club that had been in the doldrums.
And while he says Jose Mourinho is the one to follow in his footsteps, he does so with a short-term warning.
“They've got the right man," he told the Mirror, “but it's not been the best of weeks for him.
“There has been two below-par performances – put into focus by two very professional and exciting displays by Manchester City.
“And today against Watford is one of those where, I wouldn't say it's a 'must-win', but it's one where he could do with a result more than a performance. It is a crunch game.
“Three defeats in a week does not go down well with Manchester United fans.
“There is an expectation level. Defeat today will wipe the smile off people's faces."