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Manvir Singh at ATK Mohun Bagan: From impact sub to sure-shot starter under Antonio Habas

From being a mere substitute to becoming an important part of ATKMB’s lethal attack, Manvir Singh’s fortunes have taken a turn for the better…

It’s not easy to succeed at a Kolkata club for any player, mainly due to the fanfare and the expectations of the huge fan bases which surround the clubs. Yet Manvir Singh has belied expectations to become an important cog for ATK Mohun Bagan in his maiden season with them this time around.

The 25-year-old striker announced his arrival in style at the Kolkata club with a goal in his first-ever Kolkata derby in what was only his second match for ATK Mohun Bagan. Singh had sealed the fate of the first-leg derby with a brilliant goal from a solo effort which made him an instant hit among the Green and Maroons loyalists. There could not have been a better start for any player in a Kolkata club.

Even after that goal, Manvir was initially used as an impact sub by Antonio Habas. However, as the season wore on, Habas started to incorporate the forward in the team’s starting XI more regularly and in the last few matches, he has become an integral part of ATK Mohun Bagan’s lethal attack, complimenting Roy Krishna, Marcelino and David Williams with aplomb.

Singh started his ISL journey at FC Goa in 2017-18. In the three seasons with the Gaurs, the forward played a total of 47 matches. Yet he started in only seven games. The then Goa coach Sergio Lobera used to utilise his vibrancy upfront mostly in the final quarter of the matches but he was hardly an important part of the Spanish coach’s plans. In three seasons at Goa, Singh managed to score only three goals.

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This season, his decision to join ATK Mohun Bagan, who had a strong attack, meant not many expected him to nail down a starting spot. However, it was a decision he would now cherish. While under Lobera, the India international was a mere ‘super sub’, Habas has moulded him well at ATK Mohun Bagan and is getting the best out of the player.

The ATK Mohun Bagan coach used to shape his team in a 3-5-2 formation at the initial stage of the season but that took away some of team’s vibrancy upfront. With Manvir in his ranks, Habas could switch the formation to a 4-3-3 and even a 4-4-2 in the last few matches and it has been a hit so far.

Be it on the flanks in a 4-3-3 or in a 4-4-2, Manvir has shown consistency this season. This season, he started 10 games out of his 17 appearances and has already scored four goals, two out of which came against Odisha FC in a 4-1 win. A striker’s confidence builds up once he starts scoring goals and the tie against Odisha FC proved to be the one such match for Manvir Singh. Since scoring a brace, which included a world-class goal, the Indian forward looks like a man filled with confidence. 

Manvir Singh, East Bengal vs ATK Mohun Bagan

It is a huge advantage for coaches when Indians start delivering in key positions in attack and midfield. It allows the managers to play around with their squads and utilise their foreign signings effectively. In fact, Habas has so much trust in the Indian player that he didn’t even hesitate to field only four foreign players against the Kalinga Warriors and still won the tie 4-1.

He has already doubled his goalscoring tally from last season and that is pretty much down to the consistent game time he has received apart from the trust of the coach. 

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Scoring goals has a big problem for Indian strikers but Manvir’s run of form will definitely be noted by Indian national team coach Igor Stimac. 

The striker has blossomed at the Kolkata club under Habas’ tutelage and on Friday he would look forward to scoring once again against East Bengal and achieve the rare feat of scoring in consecutive Kolkata derbies in a season. 

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