Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal has defended his team's showing in the wake of criticism from Gary Neville Getty Images

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has hit out at Gary Neville after the former defender said the team "got away with murder" after beating Southampton to go third in the Premier League.

Robin van Persie scored twice either side of half-time to clinch a fifth win in a row for Van Gaal's team, who were otherwise out of sorts for much of the game at St Mary's and looked likely to drop points after Graziano Pelle's equaliser.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Neville – a winner of eight Premier League titles across 19 years at Old Trafford – said he was laughing at United's passing during their 2-1 win and their performance was "so bad".

"Louis van Gaal will watch the video back and think they were so bad in their passing at times," he said. "It almost got to the point where you started laughing it was so bad. It was that frustrated, I was laughing.

"You're looking at players there and there's £100m worth in central midfield and £50m or £60m up front. They're massive players.

"In front of that, it was so bad in terms of the passing and the accuracy of the passing. Louis van Gaal will be shocked at how bad it was. I was shocked.

"It was so bad at times," he added. "It got slightly better in the second half, but it wasn't a good United performance even if it was a great result.

"They've got away with murder tonight really with that performance. Southampton weren't very good at times and looked like a team shot on confidence. All in all, United will be happy with the result, but they're going to have to play better than that."

Neville's comments were put to Van Gaal in the former Netherlands coach's post-match press conference and the United boss attacked the ex-England international, questioning his interpretation of the performance.

"The former player of United?" said Van Gaal." That's an English expression? Hmm. Maybe.

"He can say everything because he is an ex-legend, but as an ex-legend, or a legend, you have to know what you are saying.

"You can interpret: make an interpretation of that. It's not so difficult to make an interpretation, when I say he has to pay attention to his words."