'I knew fellaini would succeed'
Rooney praises United 'flop' for turnaround
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.
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 woeful 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 came through that tough period.
"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.
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."