Aaron Mooy: 'Relegation battles have been my life for the last three years'
By Derren Howard
Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Aaron Mooy knows better than most the stresses and strains of a Premier League relegation battle.
Mooy, 29, completed a permanent move to Albion from Huddersfield last week after impressing during the first half of his season-long loan.
The Australian international, who agreed a three-and-a-half year deal at the Amex, has experienced the contrasting emotions involved in the fight for Premier League survival.
Mooy helped his previous club Huddersfield into the top flight in 2017 via the Championship play-offs while on loan from Manchester City. He made a £10m move from City to the West Yorkshire club and was the driving force for the team in the Premier as David Wagner's men finished 16th, having been tipped for relegation.
The following campaign however didn't go well at all. The Terriers were off to a terrible start as they took just two wins from their first 22 matches.
Wagner departed and in came former Borussia Dortmund II manager Jan Siewert but there was little improvement and Huddersfield and Mooy were relegated with six matches still to play.
It was a painful one for the midfielder and one that left a lasting impact as only Ipswich Town, in 2002, and Derby County, in 2008, had previously dropped down with half-a-dozen matches remaining.
Mooy and Brighton began this season pretty well under Graham Potter. They have been praised for their attractive style but a poor recent run of just one win in nine has placed them in serious trouble.
Potter's men are just two points above the bottom three and their next two matches are against lowly West Ham and Watford.
It's an edgy time at the Amex and the experiences Mooy gained with Huddersfield was likely a major factor in Brighton spending a reported £5m in the January window to secure his services for the battles ahead.
“I know the feeling of these situations," said Mooy. "It has been my life for the last three years. Lots of the other boys are the same as well. We have lots of players who have been in this situation. We just have to stay calm and keep believing in what we are doing and keep fighting.
“These games are big fights and you never get an easy game. Relegation six pointer, it’s never a smooth game and everyone is fighting. You have to be ready for that.
“We know we have to stay positive because this is a big period. We haven’t got the results we would have liked recently but you have to use that disappointing feeling as motivation going forward.
“We’ve got to look forward to the next games and enjoy the pressure that comes with being a professional footballer."
Brighton goalkeeper and Mooy's former school mate Maty Ryan helped tempt the attacking midfielder to the south coast. The pair both attended Westfields Sport High School in Sydney and played together in their junior years.
It's a school with a tradition of developing junior talent into Socceroos, such as Harry Kewell, Jason Culina, Milos Degenek, Danny Vukovic, Matt Jurman, Bernie Ibini, Mustafa Amini and Terry Antonis.
It's more than a decade since Mooy and Ryan shared the same pitch in Western Sydney and the form of the reunited duo will be crucial to Brighton's hopes of maintaining their Premier League status.
“You never know what to expect in football," Mooy said. "I spoke to Maty a few times before I joined, and he told me good things. We have always been good friends and he was right with what he told me. I’m enjoying the training ground, the stadium, the fans, the city and everything else.
“At the moment the fans seem to like me too, so that’s nice. We know we have to stay positive because this is a big period."