Danny Simpson

We've just got back from five days in Portugal - and believe it or not, the weather in Newcastle was better than it was over there!

There was only one day that was quite nice, but on the other days it was cold and rainy! It really wasn't the type of weather you normally associate with that country.

But nontheless, it was good to get away, experience a change of scenery and spend some time together. Obviously, we have a new manager, assistant manager and coaching staff so it was a chance to get to know them better outside of the usual environment.

They worked us hard but we had a bit of banter as well. We're already really close as a group of players, but things like that really do help to improve the spirit even more.

There was a bit of golf played, but I gave that a miss. I do play golf, but only when it's sunny! We also had a couple of competitions - there was a table tennis tournament and a table football contest - which were fun and we went for a couple of meals too.

And a few of us also had a FIFA 2011 tournament. Me, Cheick Tiote, Danny Guthrie and Leon Best played and it got pretty competitive! I came second in the end. It was based on who beat each other the most times and Guth was the best. Then it was me, then Besty and in last place Cheick. Nile Ranger played a couple of games as well, but they didn't count towards the tournament.

As I said, we did do a lot of training out there, but we flew back on Thursday and, having reported back to the Training Ground on Friday morning, the hard work really begins now ahead of Fulham next week.

In the last two games, we've lost points because of last-minute goals. They've both been decent points in the grand scheme of things but to concede so late on both times has been disappointing. So we're really keen to make sure that doesn't happen again.

I think the whole squad now understands the manager's way of training and his ideas, and we'll look to put that into practice at Fulham. It won't be an easy game but we've had a bit of a break, worked on a few things and feel confident.

As a boyhood Man United fan, I'm looking forward to playing against Mark Hughes' side. I was only young when he played for United, so I only remember bits of him from when I was a kid, but I've seen clips of him playing since and he was a great striker.

He was not only a good goalscorer but he gave 100 per cent and caused all kinds of problems for defenders. Would I have liked to play against him? To be honest, I would have relished it, but I bet every defender who came up against him knew they'd been in a tough game and I'm sure his Fulham team will have the same mentality.