Aaron Wan-Bissaka feared his Manchester United career could be over last season before he overcame the pressure of playing for the club.

The right-back began as second choice to Diogo Dalot under Erik ten Hag, making one substitute appearance in the 2-1 win over Liverpool on 22 August then suffering a back injury.

After recovering in late October, a combination of being out of favour and facing mental challenges meant his next appearance was on 21 December in the Carabao Cup, before he played another 32 times.

Wan-Bissaka was asked whether during the opening half of the season there were thoughts he may have to leave. “Could be. You have that feeling, but I always have faith. I had my head screwed on and was ready to do what it takes. Definitely [you feel it could be over]. My dad helped me. My close friends too, telling me: ‘Keep doing what you’re doing, have faith, your time will come.’

“It’s quite hard to motivate yourself to train hard. Because you’d be telling yourself: ‘What am I training for? When I’m not going to be playing.’ But I had the mindset: ‘I’ll train for myself.’”

Wan-Bissaka’s resurgence included Ten Hag bringing him on for an overrun Dalot at half-time in February’s 2-0 Carabao Cup final triumph over Newcastle and playing all of the FA Cup final defeat by Manchester City. This came after facing down the challenge of coping with the fierce scrutiny on United, which can include the toxicity of social media.

“Twitter can be a dark place, so I avoid it,” he said. “I’m on Instagram [but] I’m not really on it – after a game I might be.” Wan-Bissaka does not read comments. “I never do that, no matter the performance, good or bad. It is tempting. I used to [have to consciously ignore comments], but it’s easy now.”

Wan-Bissaka, who signed from Crystal Palace in June 2019, said the pre-season tour of Australia, Singapore and China that summer was a first indication of the contrast between the clubs.

“As soon as we landed at the airport [in Perth], it was a shock. All eyes are on you. It was different from what I’m used to; everything is more intense. It definitely can [be hard] – it’s how you deal with it.

“I did have help, but I had prepared myself. When I was at Palace I used to see players from other [big] clubs, what they go through, what to expect. It can be hard, especially outside of football. You go for a meal or something with family and fans are coming up wanting pictures and autographs and stuff. I don’t think they understand when is the right time to approach.”

Wilfried Zaha, Wan-Bissaka’s former Palace teammate, moved to United in summer 2013, and talked to him about the club. “He told me as well what to expect, mainly that the fan base is crazy. You understand it more once you actually go through it.”

Of winning back a place last season, he believes a “hunger to fight for my position and wanting to impress the manager” helped. “You can sit there and complain or you can actually try,” he said.

Wan-Bissaka has found Ten Hag uncomplicated: “He is straight-forward, has a lot of one-on-one chats, says what he wants, has his demands. He will say it how it is, really.”

Wan-Bissaka’s contract expires next summer, though the club holds an option for a further year. “I haven’t heard anything yet,” he said of a possible new deal. “I’m happy here.”