Gary Neville thinks Jose Mourinho is using a "high-risk, but brave" tactic of taking on Manchester United fans - and will get a response from his players.
United have been criticised for some of their performances recently and there were boos from sections of Old Trafford last weekend when Marcus Rashford was taken off Anthony Martial against Tottenham.
Mourinho appeared to send a message to those dissenting United supporters in his programme notes before the game against Benfica on Tuesday, saying: "I hope that you enjoy the game more than some of you did against Tottenham."
Former United defender Neville thinks Mourinho's approach will get a positive reaction from his players ahead of their trip to Chelsea on Super Sunday.
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Neville told his Super 6 Class of '92 diary: "As a player you would warm to the manager if he was protecting you. Everything Jose Mourinho does is for a reason. The reason he is taking on the fans a bit is because he is protecting the players, and the players will respond to that.
"It would be easy for Jose to say, 'The fans are fantastic, they turn up every week, they are entitled to do what they want because they pay their money'. That's the usual manager speak. To get a manager to go against that and say something completely different is, you could argue a high-risk tactic, but it's brave and his players will respond because he is defending them and he wants a better atmosphere for his players."
While United have seen their style come under recent scrutiny, they are still second in the Premier League and have scored the second-highest number of goals.
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"The perception at the moment is that United are negative and defend too deep, and fans aren't too happy with the style of play…I think he [Mourinho] is pulling people back and reminding them what has happened," said Neville.
"Two trophies last season, second in the league, doing well in the Champions League, maximum points, and they have scored a lot of goals at Old Trafford as well.
"Jose Mourinho was just saying, enough is enough, you have to get with us, we are in a fight for a title for the first time in three, four, five years, and we are top of the Champions League group, which hasn't happened much in the last few years. We are in a good position here, get behind us."
Mourinho has also come to the defence of striker Romelu Lukaku as he has failed to score in his last six matches across all competitions.
The Manchester United boss said Lukaku should be "untouchable" to criticism from supporters and Neville said: "It was the Romelu Lukaku stuff that annoyed him last Saturday. There were a couple of moments where he didn't chase a ball down and the fans got on his back a little bit.
"I think when you are out there at Old Trafford you have to take criticism, there are 75,000 people there and they are not daft. You have to chase the ball.
"I said on commentary: "A little bit of advice, chase the ball down, you have to chase the ball down". Lukaku is a different kind of striker, he conserves his energy, he isn't somebody who hunts across the pitch.
"United fans loved Wayne Rooney in his prime or Carlos Tevez or Mark Hughes, people who are ferocious, all-action, all-energy, looking like they are sweating and toiling on the pitch.
"But you have different types of players who play in different ways. Ruud Van Nistelrooy for instance conserved his energy by working within the width of the box, but he always looked alert.
"Lukaku can sometimes look a little bit like he is drifting through games but then all of a sudden comes alive. He doesn't do a lot of sprinting but when he does it's powerful, strong, impactful."
Keep an eye out for more Class of '92 columns on skysports.com and hear from Gary Neville on Super Sunday as Manchester City take on Arsenal, before Chelsea host Manchester United.