The Dutchman says fans can brag about their superiority over their local rivals after Sunday’s 4-2 victory in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford
United moved four points clear of City with a sixth league win in a row as Ashley Young, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata and Chris Smalling scored in a dominant performance.
City sit fourth in the table and Van Gaal dedicated his first Manchester derby win to the club’s supporters.
“You are playing for the fans. In the beginning of the season, it was not so fantastic to be a United fan,” Van Gaal told reporters.
“This week, they can go on the street and lift their hats, and say we are this year the better team.
“At this moment we are four points ahead [of City] so that’s a fact. We still have six matches to go and that can be changes again.”
Van Gaal reserved particular praise for Fellaini, who United almost sold last summer but has become a key figure during the recent upturn.
Meanwhile, Van Gaal played down fears over the calf injury that forced off Michael Carrick late on, meaning the hosts finished the game with 10 men as they had used all three permitted substitutions.
“He was wise to step off,” Van Gaal said. “We have to wait and see tomorrow. He had a stiff calf – he’s a very experienced player so he asked to leave the pitch.
“It was an error from me because I gave too many minutes to my substitutes. It’s not so wise.”