Danny Simpson

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor

 

Danny Simpson is no stranger to the infamous Sir Alex Ferguson 'hairdryer' treatement, but the Newcastle defender paid tribute to his former boss for moulding him into a Premier League star.

The legendary manager announced he will retire later this month after more than 26 years in the Manchester United hot seat, during which time he has picked up 13 top flight titles, two Champions League triumphs and FA Cup final victories among 38 club trophies.

Simpson came through the ranks at Old Trafford before becoming part of the Manchester United first team squad under Ferguson in 2006.

The full-back would go on to make eight appearances for his local club before moving to Tyneside - initially on loan - three years later.

And by his own admission, he owes a huge amount of gratitude to the outgoing Ferguson.

"It's the end of an era," Simpson told nufc.co.uk in an exclusive interview.

"It's been 26 years - that's incredible and I don't think it will ever happen again.

"It comes as a shock and doesn't seem real because he's been in the job for so long and you just think he's going to keep going.

"I was lucky to work under him for a little bit. It goes without saying that he knows his football but I've never known somebody remember everything like he does.

"He knows everyone's name - your brother, your sister - he's good with people and a good man-manager.

"If you were on the books at United he would know who you are. Even if you were only 13 or 14 he would know your name and know stuff about you.

"When I was in and around the first team he was helping me, giving me advice, and not just about football either - decisions I was making off the pitch.

"I was 19-years-old and making some wrong choices but he was there for me and that's why I am still playing in the Premier League now."

Anyone who's anyone in the Old Trafford dressing room over the last quarter of a century has been on the end of a Ferguson rant at point or another.

And Simpson is no exception to that rule, hauled off at half-time of a rare Premier League appearance for the Red Devils.

"I have actually," he smirked when asked about the 'hairdryer', "and it wasn't nice either."

"I got a shock start against Everton at home (in December 2007) and had a beast.

"The manager had told us before the game to stop Joleon Lescott's crosses because, at the time, Tim Cahill was scoring loads of headers.

"So, what happens? Lescott crosses it in and Cahill scores a header.

"He came in at half-time and got right up in my face but I learnt a lot from that. It made me stronger and better.

"It's as bad as everyone says it is, definitely, although I've heard that it was even worse about ten years ago, so I dread to think what that was like. I didn't like it but that incident made me better."

Gabriel Obertan and Sir Alex Ferguson

Another member of Newcastle's current squad spent two years under Ferguson's tutelage at Manchester United.

And Gabriel Obertan (pictured above) was as shocked as anyone to hear Wednesday morning's announcement.

"I was really surprised when I heard," he admitted.

"I was actually only speaking to someone from Manchester United this morning, so when I was told about it it came as a big surprise.

"I thought that only something like a health problem would stop him - you expect Sir Alex to go on forever.

"I had a great time in my couple of years under him.

"He taught me so much, both as a player and a person. He instilled a winning mentality in everything he did and that was something I took from him.

"Whoever takes over now, I wish them all the best but they have a very tough job to follow."