Van Gaal makes a show of being optimistic while coming off as a pessimist. The Dutch manager believes United has sent a statement of title intent to City.
A Martial double and Mata goal was enough to see of hosts Southampton for United and Van Gaal believes local rivals City should be wary.
The win propelled United to second on the log and two points behind table toppers, Manchester City and Van Gaalbis confident his team can be champions.
“It’s a fantastic result away at Southampton and I think we have made a statement that we shall compete for the title,” he told Sky Sports News.
“What I am saying all the time is that we have to improve. We have to improve our team and when we improve our team…last season we were fourth so maybe we can be third now.
“But last year we were close enough to be the champions. I have said that we were very close last year. When you remember the match against Chelsea away, it was very close but we did not score at the time.
“Scoring is the most important thing, you have seen that today, Southampton could have scored to go 2-0 up in the first 15 minutes but they didn’t do it and then we scored. We were the better team after that.”
Next up for the Red Devils is a third round League Cup home tie against Ipswich Town on Wednesday before another Old Trafford tie in the Premier League against rock-bottom Sunderland.