One of the players enjoying a shock renaissance under the Dutchman is midfielder Marouane Fellaini, who is finally starting to prove his price tag.
The Belgian endured a tough campaign under David Moyes last season, but has impressed under van Gaal, and scored the opening goal in United's 2-1 win over Stoke City on Tuesday night.
And having become an important part of van Gaal's midfield, Fellaini says that the improved understanding of the system has contributed to United's improvement of late.
"We know each other a lot better and we know the manager and the staff," said Fellani. "We know the philosophy of the manager. We are training hard as well so we have to continue like that. It is good to win four games in a row. We have to continue like that, to continue to play and to win. It’s important for the confidence."
United still sit 11 points adrift of Chelsea, but Fellaini is hopeful that the Blues will slip up and allow United to close the gap; starting with Monday night's trip to Southampton.
"Yeah, I think we wait for a mistake, but we have to look after us," he admitted. "We have to take it game-by-game and we will see after that. After Boxing Day, we have a lot of games and we have to keep winning. Southampton as well, they are better in the table than us and we'll see on Monday as well."