He also says the Dutchman will have learnt a lot from his first season at Manchester United.
The Red Devils initially suffered under the Dutchman this season, with him failing to find a formation and line-up that suited him, with an early season 5-3 loss to Leicester City a big shock.
They managed to overcome those struggles to finish fourth and return to the Champions League at the first time of asking, but Neville believes the intensity of the league and playing over the Christmas period took it out of Van Gaal.
“I think the league surprised Louis van Gaal,” he said.
“I think he got caught out, I think he was surprised with the intensity and playing over that Christmas period. I think it took a lot out of him.”
Despite that poor start, impressive wins over Liverpool, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Tottenham have seen many suggest that a title challenge could be on the cards for next season.
While their form and performances have been to the required standard at times, a poor finish to the season has tempered expectations somewhat, with inconsistency proving a determining factor.
Neville, though, suggests that the United manager will have learnt a lot about the Premier League from his first season in charge and will be better for those experiences next time around.
“He’ll be better for it next year,” he added.
“He’s struggled with his system early on, trying to fit players into the systems. I think he’ll be better off next year, history says he wins trophies and that’s what United fans are hoping for. “