Weston McKennie is making no excuses after being suspended from the United States national team in September, but admits finding a lack of support “hard” and concedes his early season form at Juventus in 2021-22 was “dreadful”.
The 23-year-old midfielder was removed from the USMNT fold after spending a night outside the squad’s coronavirus bubble, with former players and supporters on social media quick to condemn his actions.
McKennie accepts he made “a mistake” and believes he will bounce back stronger for having had to prove himself again to coaches and the fan base.
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What has been said?
McKennie told The Athletic: “I think my main goal after that was just to get back to help my team. At that point, I was kind of fed up with the whole social media world. Just because whenever you’re in a negative moment, you tend to only see the negative things that come out and that really messed my confidence up completely.
“Obviously I’m not going to sit here and blame my bad start to the season or whatever, because of what happened, but it definitely takes a toll on a player in a moment that you may make a mistake or something, that you don’t really get the support that you think you would get from people.
"It was hard. For sure, it was hard, but I’ve learned from it and I’ve grown from it, for sure. My biggest thing after that was just to put my head down and not pay attention to what everyone has to say, because not everyone knows what’s going on, not everyone knows the situation that I was going through.
"So the best way for me to cope with that was to put my head down and do what I do best and that’s work.”
Can McKennie find his spark?
Big things are expected of McKennie after he earned a regular role at Serie A giants with Juventus with five goals and two assists for the Bianconeri last season.
Standards have dipped in the current campaign, leading to inevitable exit talk and links to a number of Premier League teams, but McKennie believes he can succeed in Turin after putting recent struggles behind him.
McKennie added: “I can and will admit that my first maybe two months here were dreadful, it was not a good start for me at all, especially coming off a season like I did last year,.
“There was a lot of expectation and a lot of pressure coming into the season to keep that ball rolling, and I think with all the stuff that happened in the last months with me, it definitely had a little bit of an effect on it as well.
"My performance thrives off the level of my confidence in myself and what I’m feeling, and the confidence that I feel from my coaching staff. If I feel like someone’s giving me that confidence, that’s when I tend to (thrive) and do my best.
“It was definitely something that I think I found, finally, and kind of just said: I’m going to be me. I’m going to play the way I play and put that mentality back that I had. And it’s been working out for me so far, and hopefully it continues.”
McKennie has earned favour again with Massimiliano Allegri over recent weeks and found the target in his last two Serie A games.