Jesse Lingard has opened up on his slump and hit back at criticism of his lifestyle, insisting football remains his priority.
Lingard has not scored in 28 games for Manchester United , while his dramatic loss of form has also cost him his England place.
Once a first-choice pick for United and key member of the England side that reached the World Cup semi-finals last year, Lingard’s slump has been blamed on him believing his own hype.
There is a perception he spends more time on his social media profile – he has 6.6million followers on Instagram – and his ‘Jlingz’ clothing range than his day job, with critics including former United star Paul Ince, who branded him a “prime example of everything that is wrong” at the club.
Despite the criticism, Lingard dismissed the notion he has become too preoccupied with the trappings of success and allowed his focus to be blurred by outside influences, particularly his clothing range.
“I think people think I’m actually involved in everything,” said Lingard.
“But I don’t pack the clothes and send them on. If you came home with me, you’d just think I’m boring. I just watch Netflix all day, all week. I don’t do much else.
“There are a lot of things on social media, with people saying nasty things. You can’t get drawn into all that stuff.
“That’s why it’s tough for young footballers coming through now, they’re so attracted to social media and what people are saying about them, they don’t actually know how good they are themselves.
“One person can hate you and one person can love you, that’s just life. You have to get on with it.
“We’ve got to play in front of 75,000 people every week. At United, it’s the biggest club in the world, so you get criticised either way.
“For us as players, we’ve just got to get on with it and be thick-skinned. I love football. I love training, I love playing, I love the fans, the stadiums. I love everything about football. For me, I’m an out-and-out footballer.”
Lingard, whose last goal for United was in January in a 3-1 FA Cup tie win at Arsenal, claimed his drop in form was down to a lack of self-belief, a surprising claim from a player who does not seem to suffer from confidence issues.
“I did [have self-belief] in stages, but I think I still need more, even to this day now to be quite honest,” Lingard told the UTD Podcast . “Believing in your own ability to get on the ball and make things happen.
“That’s what type of player I am and I need to start reverting back to that and playing how I used to play when I was coming through the ranks. If I was doing it back then, I should be smashing it now.”