FEW fall foul of the Newcastle United hierarchy in contract negotiations and emerge to tell the tale.
Danny Simpson, having seen talks over a new deal collapse at the end of last season, is not only still at Newcastle – he is now eyeing a future in black and white beyond the turn of the year.
In a remarkably frank interview – his first since the squad returned from the summer – Simpson insists that he never wanted to leave the club this summer and that he remains completely committed to playing for Newcastle.
That is despite a close season when he admits most of the fans approaching him in the street were only doing so to wish him all the best at his new club. Simpson can’t help but laugh when he thinks about it, and is realistic enough to know it might have looked like his days were numbered to outsiders.
He admits that talks with Alan Pardew over the close season brought the admission from the United manager that they were trying to sign his replacement in Mathieu Debuchy, but he never once doubted that he’d be on Tyneside come September 1.
Whatever your opinion on Simpson as a player, you have to admire his strength of character. He knows that not everyone is sold on him but happily interacts on Twitter, while he doesn’t shirk a single question as he contemplates an uncertain future.
“I’m still here, just call me the great survivor,” he smiles. “Personally, I never doubted I’d be here after the deadline despite everything that was being said.
“I’ve always said I’m happy here and I’ve got one year left on my contract, why would I want to leave a team that finished fifth last season and is now in the Europa League?
“When you look at all the players we’ve got I’m hoping for another great season here. I haven’t let the uncertainty unsettle me, it’s just the type of person I am, I just get on with it and give 100%.
“I knew I’d still be here because I get on well with all the lads and the manager.”
Simpson’s satisfaction at pulling on a Newcastle shirt has never been in doubt, but love of the club is not enough in the modern era.
The defender has endured tortuous negotiations over a new contract with United over the past nine months, changing his agent and turning down several offers because he wants parity of pay with other first-team regulars. At the moment there are no talks planned on his future and his deal will expire next summer, but he hopes that will change before January. He insists he is desperate to sign a new contract.
He has inevitably been aided by Newcastle’s long and fruitless pursuit of France international Debuchy, who would have been direct competition in the right-back slot.
“I spoke to the manager and I get on well with him,” he said.
“I knew he was trying to get other players in but that’s good for the team. We want a bigger squad as players, we want to progress in every competition and you need strength in depth.
“I never once let (the Debuchy chase) affect me, even though I knew players might come in. I enjoy training, I enjoy playing and I enjoy being at Newcastle. I’m happy here. I’ve said it and I’ll say it again.
“I don’t know if the fans think otherwise but I want to sign a new contract. At the moment, things between the club and me have stalled (talks) but there’s still a year left to work it out. The main thing is that this window is now shutting and I can concentrate on these matches.”
First up is Aston Villa tomorrow, following Thursday night’s successful clearance of a Europa League play-off.
And whatever you might make of Newcastle’s summer transfer business, they’re not looking too shabby on the pitch at the moment. Defeat to Chelsea wasn’t ideal but a two-legged victory in Europe was achieved largely with understudies in starring roles while Tottenham were downed on the opening day of the season.
Beat under-par Villa on Sunday and a tough start to the campaign will have been negotiated with relative ease.
He said: “We want to win to get six points and a place in the Europa League, which would be a very satisfying start to the season. We want SJP to be a tough place to come and we’ve already won our first two games here, so let’s make it three out of three. They’ve had two poor results, but they will come up here hungry and desperate for points. But we know when we’re at home with those fans, we’re tough to beat.”
Newcastle’s ultimate target is to try and finish fifth this season while also “attacking” one of the three cup competitions they are in.
Europe will be tough and the League Cup has thrown up the most difficult draw of all – Simpson’s former employers Manchester United. He boasts a decent record against them, having never lost to his former side.
For Simpson it is all about battling through – and blocking out some of the negative things that are thrown his way.
“I know fans have their own opinion of me but that’s part of football,” he said. “The main thing is that I’m here, I get on well with the lads, they want me to stay and the manager’s happy for me to be here. I’ve never seen it as a problem and I’ve now got a lot to look forward to, some big nights in Europe and I’m glad we got through on Thursday, that was the main thing.”