Veteran midfielder Gary O’Neil knows all about the ups and downs of life in the Premier League.
Before joining Norwich two years ago, he had been relegated with Middlesbrough and West Ham and promoted with QPR and back up with the Hammers under Sam Allardyce.
The 32 year old has been an integral part of the City engine room since Christmas but even with his experience, O’Neil says the situation Norwich find themselves in is tough.
His last game for QPR was the play-off final, a game in which he was sent off for a cynical last man foul to stop a near certain goal, at the end of the first half. Fortunately for him a late Bobby Zamora goal got him and the ten men out of jail and sent Rangers to the Premier League, albeit for only one season.
‘I`ve stood in the tunnel at Wembley after being sent off in a play-off final, praying that my team-mates will pull a result out of the fire, but the pressure of a relegation is a lot tougher,” said O`Neil of his Wembley experience with QPR two years ago.
“One way or another, virtually every season, wherever I play, I’m used to it going down to the wire, but these relegation battles are tough mentally and I don’t seem to do mid-table comfort very often.
“You are down there because you have been losing – when you are winning and fighting for promotion, you are full of hope, but this league is ruthless.
“Although this is a terrible result, as a performance we were not horrendous at all, but as is so often the case, the first goal was crucial.
“Big Sam is big on his stats, and I remembering him telling us at West Ham that if you score first, 80 per cent of the time you don’t lose in the Premier League.”
That was certainly the case on Saturday.
If Norwich are relegated then players like O’Neil are the sort you want around the place.