John Stones has sought to laugh off the “snipered” jibes that have come his way on the back of a mistake in the Carabao Cup final, with a deaf ear being turned to critics of his Manchester City form.
The England international found himself thrust back under the spotlight during an outing against Aston Villa at Wembley on March 1.
City surged ahead in that game through Sergio Aguero and Rodri, but were pegged back shortly before half-time as an untimely slip from Stones allowed Mbwana Samatta to be teed up.
Villa were unable to find a leveller, but Pep Guardiola’s side were left hanging on at times before wrapping up a 2-1 win and a hat-trick of League Cup triumphs.
Stones was let off the hook by that success, but he claims to have already mastered the art of shrugging off mistakes and ignoring his detractors.
The 25-year-old, who joined City from Everton for £47.5 million ($58m) in 2016, told Micah Richards during a discussion on the official England YouTube channel of the stick he receives: “Literally everyone is different, so some might take it to heart, it might affect some more than others.
“I've got to try and turn it into a positive and let that negative press or whatever it might be motivate me to come back better and stronger.
“Take for instance the Carabao Cup final. The ball's gone up in the air and I'm backtracking, but as I'm looking up in the air, all I could see - and you'll know when you kick the ball up in the air and it's just blue sky - it's coming down and you don't know where it's going to land. I just got disorientated. The next minute I'm on the floor and thinking 'oh, no, just get up, get back into it.'
“But it could have gone two ways, I could have crumbled and not done anything and let it affect me. But then I thought my character and performance after that was something I should be proud of. How I reacted and helped the team, especially in the last 10 minutes.”
Stones went to say that his team-mates appreciated his efforts against Villa, even if they did take the opportunity to poke fun at him.
He added: “You've got to come through those situations to know what to do.
“Those things go unrecognised but not to your team-mates.
“Everyone saw the mistake, which happens. Everyone was saying I got snipered after!”
Stones has not always been a guaranteed starter under Pep Guardiola, but has taken in 129 appearances for City across four years and helped the Blues to back-to-back Premier League titles.