Right back at Old Trafford: Simpson plots Newcastle win
Former United stalwart tells Simon Turnbull he is not daunted by his return to Manchester
Saturday 26 November 2011
For Newcastle United, Old Trafford has been a Theatre of Nightmares for 39 years now.
True, they did beat Sheffield United and Spurs there in FA Cup semi-finals in the 1990s but they have not overcome Manchester United on their home ground since 12 February 1972, when Stewart Barrowclough and John Tudor scored the goals in a 2-0 win. It was the week after Newcastle's infamous FA Cup defeat at Hereford.
Not that the mention of Ronnie Radford and his wonder goal registers a flicker of recognition with Danny Simpson. "Nah," the 24-year-old right-back said, shaking his head, "I wasn't born until 15 years later."
For Simpson, Old Trafford remains very much the theatre of his youthful dreams, even though he was shown the exit door as a Manchester United player in January last year. "I have nothing but good memories," he said. "I can't wait to go back. "
The Salford native returns this afternoon as part of a Newcastle side looking to overcome both their historical hoodoo and their first defeat of the Premier League season, a 3-1 reverse across town against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium a week ago.
"I haven't played there since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's testimonial three years ago," Simpson said. "To go back there and play against United is going to be a massive day. I've got a lot of friends who are still playing for United and half of my friends and family are Reds as well.
"I've spoken to a few of the United players this week – to Chris Smalling, Danny Welbeck and Patrice Evra. I've had a bit of banter with Patrice because myself and [fellow Old Trafford old boy] Gabriel Obertan will be against him on the right, saying we're going to beat you down our side.
"Everyone wants to go to Old Trafford and beat them and it's a tough ask. We'll have a go, like we did at City last week. That's what the manager [Alan Pardew] wants us to do. He's told us to have confidence. We're in fourth position in the league because we're a good, hard-working team, and we've got players who can score goals.
"We believe we can go there and get something. I think that's the big thing. We believe we can go to Old Trafford and get a win, or at least get a point."
In his time on the books at Old Trafford, Simpson ended up playing more games for other clubs than for Manchester United – earning the collectors' item of a pair of matching Championship title winning medals while on loan at Sunderland and Newcastle. He only made eight first-team appearances for the Mancunian United, all in the 2007-08 season. Three of those came in the Premier League – all wins at Old Trafford, including a 6-0 slaughter of Newcastle that featured a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick and two goals from Carlos Tevez.
"I knew when I eventually left that I had to move on for the benefit of my career," Simpson reflected. "Going to a massive club like Newcastle made the decision easier. Sir Alex [Ferguson] was great. He's like a dad at Old Trafford, and not just to the players. He just said to me that it was time. He said if I progressed like he thought I would that I'll do alright.
"He's a top man. I saw him a few weeks ago. He always asks me how I am and how my family are. That's the type of man he is. He knows everything about everyone. It would be nice if I have a chat with him after the match on Saturday and we've taken some points off them."
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