Raheem Sterling has said he no longer pays any attention to comments made about him in the media after ‘unfair criticism’ last season.
The England forward endured a difficult first campaign at Manchester City after his acrimonious move from Liverpool and also fell short of expectations at Euro 2016.
But the 21-year-old felt some of the flak he received last term was unfair and he vowed to close his ears to it as he returned to training after the summer.
His performances since have been superb with Sterling revelling under the guidance of new manager Pep Guardiola and at the heart of City’s 100 per cent start to the season.
Sterling said: “I got a lot of criticism last year which I thought was a bit unfair. There were a few games where I made my mark were in the Champions League, where I had never scored.
“It is always better to be on a good run and be confident in yourself but at the same time when you hear a bit of unfair criticism sometimes that does puts you down a bit. To see people don’t really recognise and see that you are willing to work hard and do the best for your country and club at times is a bit frustrating.
“But I’ve forgotten about that. It’s simply ‘play football and don’t listen to it’ – don’t read anything like that.
“Before, you take a stroll and you look at the app on your phone, just being nosey, and you see your name and probably have a little bit of a read, but now I don’t pay it any mind (attention) any more. I simply leave it alone.”
Sterling bore the brunt of a lot of criticism for England’s failings during the summer but it was at that point Guardiola, newly installed at the Etihad Stadium, got in touch.
Sterling, speaking at a press conference ahead of City’s Champions League group stage opener against Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday, said: “Pep coming in was a massive help and for him to be on the phone to me before I’d even met him was a massive boost.
“He said he always liked my football and watched me at Liverpool, so to hear stuff like that made me go away and think to basically come back stronger and work harder than ever.
“He just makes it simple and tells you how it is, tells you exactly what he wants from you on the pitch and says the rest is down to you so there is not much of a better feeling than that for a manager to make the game seem so simple.”