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Van Gaal: United can compete for the title

Manchester United sent out a statement that they are ready to compete for the Premier League title by beating Southampton at St Mary's, according to manager Louis van Gaal.

The visitors won a thrilling contest 3-2 on Sunday, with Anthony Martial's double and a Juan Mata strike sealing victory despite Graziano Pelle scoring twice for the Saints.

The result put Van Gaal's men second in the table, two points behind Manchester City, who lost to West Ham earlier in the weekend and the Dutchman insisted a title bid was a goal, even if it should not be expected in his second season.

"It is a fantastic result away at Southampton and we have made a statement that we shall compete for the title," he said.

"What I am saying all the time is that we have to improve and we finished fourth last year.

"We shall always strive for it, we did also last year. You cannot expect a title from a team in transition. But when we are close we shall grab it."

Van Gaal was impressed by the control his side showed in the win after they had lost leads in previous away clashes against Swansea City and PSV.

The 64-year-old continued: "For the first time after we were ahead - as we also were against Swansea City and PSV - we controlled the match better and we played more to kill the game.

"Of course after the Champions League match against PSV our players are more tired and you could see that in the last 15 minutes, which were difficult. But I liked the way we did it because we controlled the game for 30 minutes of the second half."

United face Ipswich Town in the League Cup on Wednesday before returning to league business against Sunderland on Saturday.