Manager Louis van Gaal said the midfielder was undroppable on current form, Ashley Young believes Fellaini is “unplayable” when at the peak of his powers, and Rooney thinks the Belgian is the best on the planet when it comes to relieving pressure and turning defence into attack. The United captain said: “We like to play out from the back and if teams are pressing us then we have him as an option. He is probably the best in world football at bringing the ball down and getting us out of that pressure and further up the pitch.” That Fellaini would receive such praise off anyone would have seemed laughable last summer. The 27-year-old was made to shoulder much of the blame for the disastrous reign of David Moyes, who signed the midfielder for £27.5million. The United fans who were excited at the prospect of watching the Belgian play quickly threw away the Afro wigs they had bought to mark his arrival when his form went downhill as fast as the team’s and Moyes was sacked. Such was the apathy towards Fellaini that his introduction off the bench for United’s final pre-season friendly against Valencia last August was greeted with sarcastic cheers from the home fans. Rooney thinks Fellaini should take credit for the way he dealt with the negativity that was directed his way. “Last year was awful for him,” Rooney said. “But in fairness he kept his head down worked hard and come through that tough period. Wayne Rooney never doubted Marouane Fellaini would become a world-beater at Manchester United. Fellaini put on the latest in a long line of impressive performances on Sunday when he starred in United’s 4-2 derby win over Manchester City at Old Trafford. Fellaini did not start a game for United until the end of October, but his form has become so good recently that those who work with him have been falling over themselves to praise him. “It was tough for him but he had the whole team’s support. We knew he was working hard and it wasn’t just him struggling last season, a lot of us were. “He was the one who took most of the blame for it. It was hard for him. Thankfully the manager has shown faith in him. “He is showing now what he did at Everton and why Manchester United bought him. He is a quality player. He is a different option for us and it is starting to show on the pitch.” In the first derby, Fellaini lacked discipline and seemed determined to get sent off, but on Sunday he put on arguably the best performance of his United career. The 6ft 4in midfielder eased the pressure on his team-mates by heading in United’s second and he won his battle with his opposite number Yaya Toure, who was made to look like a tired fortysomething by the final whistle. Rooney thinks Fellaini, and the rest of the United front six, were more willing to graft for their team-mates than the opposition. He said: “We know some City players are not the best at tracking back and defending and tracking runners and we felt we could make them pay for that and we did do. “We have got players who can score goals from midfield and to be honest we felt that was going to win us the game and it was proved to be.” Fellaini, Rooney and their team-mates will look to make it seven straight wins this Saturday when they travel to Stamford Bridge. Although mathematically United can still win the title, even if they win in London, leaders Chelsea will still be five points clear and they have a match in hand against bottom side Leicester to come. But Rooney knows United can send out another message by becoming the first team to win at Stamford Bridge in the league in more than a year. “We are confident going to Chelsea,” the striker said. “We are in a good run of form and have beaten some good teams.” Press Association
BEN SCHMIDT/Herald photoAlando Tucker may have taken Devin Harris’ title as the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball all-time single-season scoring champ, but Harris still has something on Tucker: a bigger paycheck.The former Wisconsin standout agreed Monday on the terms of a 5-year contract extension with the Dallas Mavericks, which is reportedly worth more than $42.6 million. The extension will be added on to the point guard’s current contract, which is set to expire at the conclusion of the upcoming season.“Devin, along with Josh [Howard], those guys will carry the baton for us into the future,” Mavericks President of Basketball Operations Donnie Nelson told the Dallas Morning News. “Devin’s deal was something we were hopeful of getting done so that it doesn’t have to be weighing on his mind this season.”This past season, Harris set career-bests for points (10.2), assists (3.7) and rebounds (2.5) and also pushed for more and more playing time as the season wore on.”I feel good about the commitment for another five years,” Harris told NBA.com. “Hopefully now we can run with it.”Harris, a Wauwatosa, Wis. native and former Mr. Wisconsin Basketball, was a starter as a freshman on UW head coach Bo Ryan’s first team at the university — a team that surprised many by winning a share of the Big Ten Championship despite entering the season picked to finish as low as ninth in the conference.As a sophomore, Harris clinched an outright Big Ten title for the Badgers by hitting a free throw with .4 seconds left in the season’s final game, sending a sold-out Kohl Center crowd into a frenzy.Over his three years at Wisconsin, Harris won or shared two Big Ten regular season championships and a conference tournament championship, establishing himself as one of the school’s all-time greats.Following his junior season, Harris declared for the NBA draft and was the No. 5 overall selection, going to the Dallas Mavericks.