Danny Simpson finds the right United
So the only way is down after Manchester United, is it? Not according to Danny Simpson. Stuart Rayner reports.
WHILE David Beckham was chasing shadows on Wednesday, distracting the Old Trafford crowd from their baiting of Carlos Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid were making their now-customary early exit from the European Cup.
Proof, some would say, that after leaving Manchester United the only way is down. They would be wrong, as Newcastle United’s Danny Simpson knows only too well.
Were Simpson still at the club he supported as a boy he might be competing for a league title, but only seeing out his contract on the phoney war battlefield of reserve team football. Swapping Uniteds has allowed him regular football in front of some of the biggest crowds in the country for a side top of the Football League.
Manchester United are often portrayed as a “family” but the Red Devils do not have a monopoly on being united. Simpson has found just as tightly-knit a squad at St James’ Park – as shown by the number of team-mates he has shot at recently! It is why he is pleased to have turned his back on a club which gave him more loans than first-team starts.
“It feels like something has come off my shoulders and I have come away from that tag,” says the man borrowed by Royal Antwerp, Sunderland, Ipswich Town and Blackburn Rovers before joining Newcastle – initially on loan. “People would say, ‘Do you want to go back (to Manchester United) or not?’ and it does play on your mind. I have settled here, it is permanent. I have moved up here and that makes a difference.
“People thought I was just saying it but the first few weeks I felt settled, comfortable, and the lads made me settle in. It is a good town.”
A “good town” is one thing, but what most affects the mood of professionals is their workplace. Simpson has come to the right place at the right time. Twelve months earlier he might not have found the same happy camp. “That is something I heard,” he admits. “Some lads would come in, train, not speak to each other and go home after training. This season it is the opposite. We get on well and spend time with each other.”
The 23-year-old believes his old club sets the standards off as well as on the field.
“That family atmosphere comes from Sir Alex (Ferguson) and he wants everyone to get on with each other off the pitch,” he argues. “You have to speak to each other outside training.”