The same boiling water that softens the potato, hardens the egg.

It’s not about the circumstance, but rather what you are made of.

The same can be said about pressure in football – it’s either the making of a player or the breaking of a player, there is no in-between.

We are at that stage in the season when you usually find yourself in a fight – either for the title or survival.

When I look at the Sky Bet League Two table and see Oxford United just six points above the relegation zone, I worry.

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I don’t worry because Oxford United don’t have talented players to get away – because they do.

I just worry because I know just what lies ahead for them and of course, the fans.

Even though I have been in teams that have been battling and fighting for championships, I have also been involved at the other end of the table.

I was involved in three relegation battles during my playing career, losing two and winning just one.

Those fights came with pressure – the pressure to succeed and to win games.

There is a want and a desire to get that crucial win.

When you’re fighting for titles you want to win every game to stay in the hunt, but when you are in a relegation dogfight you need to win every game as your league status depends on it.

If you are wondering what it is like being at a club involved in a relegation battle then I will tell you straight – it is bloody awful.

The atmosphere changes around the club, players change, the management change and it’s all down to the pressure.

I know what the pressure of needing to win can do to players.

I have seen at first hand the effect it had on teammates of mine and some of those were top-class Premier League players.

When you walk out for a game on a Saturday after being told that you need to win, then if you are not mentally strong your performance has most probably already been affected and for the worse.

I believe it takes three core things from everyone to get through a tough relegation dogfight.

And those are: team spirit, heart and belief.

You need to be thinking 'team' at all times, especially now that individuals alone can’t get you through this.

You need everyone thinking and pulling in the same direction.

Heart is a big thing; you need heart and bravery to see through every kind of challenge.

Meet them head on and then make sure you never take a step back.

It is of critical importance you believe you will get out of trouble and you can do it.

Without this you might as well not bother turning up.

Individually and collectively this is crucial component.

If a team has all these elements while going through a relegation battle then it has a great chance of getting through to the other side unscathed.

If not, there may be trouble ahead and you don't want that.

When I was at Leeds United and we got relegated I think a major factor was a lack of belief among the players that we would get out of trouble.

At Reading, we suffered relegation in our second season of the Premier League.

And I think that not being a 'team' cost us Premier League status.

Far too many individuals thought they could do it on their own and put themselves first, rather than the club, which in my opinion is a big mistake.

I hope the changing room at the Kassam Stadium has all three of those qualities in abundance and steers clear of any danger of the drop.

The changing room is very different from when I was there, with only a few old teammates left in there.

The players I do know from my time at Oxford are leaders, which is a big bonus.

Players like my old defensive partner and captain Jake Wright, centre back Johnny Mullins and midfielder Andy Whing.

Let's just hope there is an end-of-season surge up the table and the U’s climb away from the dreaded danger zone.