MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling has stopped checking his social media accounts because of the abuse he gets from critics.

The 22-year-old England international was particularly targeted with online criticism during the European Championship in 2016. At that tournament, Sterling dubbed himself "The Hated One" on Instagram following England's opening game against Russia.

"My first year here I used to always be on Instagram. You see stuff pop up and check it out because you don't know any better," Sterling said of the 2015-16 season, his first at City after moving from Liverpool.

"Since I have been getting those negative comments, I realize the best thing is not to look at it so it won't affect you."

City manager Pep Guardiola phoned Sterling during Euro 2016 in a show of support, and the winger has improved his end product under the Spanish coach with six goals already in the Premier League this season. He is only five off his best goal tally for a season.

"He has been massive for me, especially with the basic and simple stuff," Sterling said of Guardiola. "He always tries to get you do the simple stuff at the top level and that is genius because it works."

Sterling was linked with a move to Arsenal in the summer transfer window as part of a potential package that could have brought Alexis Sanchez to City. But Guardiola said recently that Sterling was never going to leave.

"I didn't have any negative thoughts," Sterling said. "I just woke up one day with England, didn't believe a word of it until I spoke to the manager. I didn't need to worry about it."

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80