DANNY Simpson has shrugged off the front page headlines away from the pitch – and insisted they haven’t affected his focus on the field.
Simpson’s relationship with X-Factor judge and former N-Dubz star Tulisa Contostavlos made the news last week.
But the defender – who played in last night’s 1-1 Europa League draw with Maritimo – is adamant that the focus on his private life won’t affect his performances.
And Simpson, speaking for the first time about the story, says he’s grateful for the support he has got from United manager Alan Pardew, his team-mates – and the club’s supporters.
“The manager’s been really supportive – everybody here has,” Simpson told the Gazette.
“They say what they want, but everybody around me knows the truth. Sometimes when all of that is going on around you, it’s the best time to play football.
“You go on the pitch, and you can forget about everything.
“If anything in the last couple of games, I’ve really enjoyed it. I feel like I’m getting back to my old self from last season. I’m pretty pleased with that.”
On the fans, Simpson added: “They’re class – they always stick up for you when one of your players is going through a situation.
“They’re top fans, and it’s good when you come to your workplace and the fans, staff and players are around you.
“I have a lot of friends in football, and good people around me.
“The manager has been different class too. The main thing now is to play my part and play on Sunday at Southampton and get three points.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle were far from their best against Maritimo, but the result was enough to book United a place in the Round of 32 with a game to spare after Bordeaux beat Club Brugge in Belgium.
“The main aim when we got into the competition was to qualify,” said Simpson.
“We’ve done that, but it would have been nice to win given the last couple of results at home. We wanted a clean sheet and to win.
“It was an opportunity to kick start the season.
“We got the goal, and we thought it would go well from there. It wasn’t meant to be again, and the second half was pretty poor, to be honest.”