“I do feel we are improving”, said Schneiderlin.
He said: “The way we played, we could’ve got a better result”. Yet it did end up as a demonstration of how, slowly but surely, Van Gaal has brought back a few of the old sturdiness, and when Juan Mata shimmers with this menace it should at least encourage United to feel they can navigate a passage safely through Group B.
But Mata won and converted a penalty to equalise before then setting up Smalling for the victor with a majestic flick.
United made the worst possible start on Wednesday when they went behind in the fourth minute after Antonio Valencia played Daniel Caligiuri onside and he slotted the ball past David de Gea. Equally, there was plenty to admire, too, about the robust response to the early setback and Mata’s performance was conceivably his outstanding contribution yet in United’s colours. “We had to stop the crosses”, an unsympathetic Van Gaal explained.
“In the 84th minute there was a foul on Julian Draxler that really should have been another yellow card [for Schneiderlin], so once again we just lacked that bit of luck at the end”.
Louis Van Gaal’s side stepped it up a gear after they passed the 20 minute mark and it was Martial who came close once again who was causing problems as he did well to collect the ball on the right before he drilled a cross into Rooney in front of goal but he managed to scoop it over the crossbar from eight yards out.
The next time Wolfsburg and United meet will be at the Volkswagen Arena on the final matchday on December 8 in a potentially vital clash in terms of qualification to the knockout rounds.
Schweinsteiger will play alongside Morgan Schneiderlin in the midfield, as Ander Herrera did not make the match day squad.
Caligiuri, meanwhile, felt Wolfsburg were unfortunate not to come away with at least a point.
United did not get off to the best of starts on their return to the group stage of the Champions League two weeks ago, as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Dutch Champions PSV Eindhoven.
Chris Smalling’s development as a centre-back this season has been monumental for Manchester United.