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Van Gaal's ruthless streak crucial to United's ambitions

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Darmian has started his United career in fine fashion
Darmian has started his United career in fine fashion

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal displayed his ruthless streak once again on Sunday and that may be crucial to their hopes of mounting a title challenge this season.

The alarm bells were ringing for Van Gaal as Southampton dominated the opening exchanges and took an early lead, with the equaliser provided by Anthony Martial before half time not altering the unforgiving approach of the United boss.

Full-back Matteo Darmian may have been one of the shining stars of United's season so far after his summer arrival from Torino, but he was struggling to deal with Saints attacking star Dusan Tadic at St Mary's Stadium.

The answer for Van Gaal was not to give his full-back a half-time pep talk, as he opted to replace him with Antonio Valencia and an improved United display led to a convincing 3-2 win.

"He (Darmian) gave too much space to Tadic in my opinion, so that's why I brought on Valencia," stated the United chief.

“I didn't see Tadic in the second half, did you? It was a tactical change because Tadic had a lot of space and was very dangerous for us.

"I wanted to eliminate that with Valencia and he did that very well I think."

Van Gaal also hinted that a challenge for the Premier League title was within United's grasp this season, despite his earlier claims that they were not ready to push for top spot.

"Of course we shall always strive for it," he added of his side's Premier League title dreams. 

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

Van Gaal has built a reputation for his decisiveness and an unflinching determination to achieve success, even if it means upsetting a few egos along the way.

That ethos appears to be continuing at United.

Check out Van Gaal's post match interview with Sky Sports after Sunday's win at Southampton: