John Stones admits that criticism, both personal and external, “hurts” after enduring a testing debut campaign at Manchester City.
The highly-rated centre-half completed a £47.5 million transfer from Everton in the summer of 2016.
A lofty price tag placed him under the spotlight at a Premier League title hopeful, and Stones concedes that his performance levels fell below the required standard at times.
He is, however, his own biggest critic and remains confident that the 2017-18 campaign will be more productive, with fellow big-money defenders Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy having joined him at the Etihad Stadium.
Stones told ESPN FC ahead of an International Champions Cup clash with Tottenham: "People do focus on the transfer fee, but that's football.
"It's all part of the game, but I'm just focused on getting into the team, playing well and making sure that the team wins.
"If you are focused and driven as I am, I don't think the outside influences should have an effect.
"I am not saying that it doesn't, though. Every player has been there, or been through a bad patch.
"For me, it's not about what [pressure] comes from the outside, it's about me, knowing that I haven't done my job as well as I should have done.
"It's about making mistakes in games and probably beating myself up more than I should do, really.
"You take it out on yourself because you think that you have let your teammates down and yourself down, and that's what hurts."
Stones made 41 appearances for City in all competitions last season, netting two goals.