By Michael Cantillon
Louis Van Gaal is confident Manchester United can challenge for the Premier League title after delivering a “statement” with their victory at Southampton.
Inspired by new £58million new signing Anthony Martial, United came from a goal down to clinch a 3-2 win that lifts them to second in the table, just two points behind neighbours Manchester City.
Speaking afterwards, Van Gaal observed: “It’s a fantastic result away at Southampton and I think we have made a statement that we shall compete for the title.”
Previous to the St Mary’s triumph, United had suffered defeats on their travels to both Swansea in the Premier League, and PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League.
Van Gaal noted a difference with this performance. “We were ahead against Swansea and we were also ahead against PSV, but we controlled this match better and we played to kill the game.”
Indeed Van Gaal’s side had almost 60% of the possession and completed 500 passes, putting the result beyond doubt with a 44-pass move which culminated in Juan Mata drilling the ball home after Memphis Depay had hit the post.
Van Gaal was also quick to praise match-winner Martial, asserting, “He is always an attacking point for a lot of players and that I like in him. He is always running in behind and that I like also. But he is an attacking point and he keeps the ball so he is very important for us already.
“He has the talent to do it but the Premier League has a lot of rhythm and there is a lot of physical influence from the defenders, but he is also a strong guy. We can expect maybe more consistency than I had expected, but you never know. We are only three games in.”
Van Gaal will be hoping his team’s good form continues, with a Capital One Cup third round tie on Wednesday night the next port of call, where Manchester United host Ipswich Town.