Manvir Singh attributes 2020-21 Hero ISL success to ‘more game time’
Manvir Singh was undoubtedly one of the stars for ATK Mohun Bagan in the 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL). The 25-year-old forward was a constant attacking threat for the Mariners and was crucial in their run to the final, scoring some important goals along the way.
The pacey attacker, who mostly operated on the right wing, finished the season with six goals and three assists to his name -- his best campaign to date in India’s premier league. And needless to say, he was among the highest-scoring Indians. Manvir’s improved performances can be put down to the increased minutes (1486) that he clocked with the Kolkata giants than he did with his former club FC Goa over three seasons (1294).
However, Manvir believes those opportunities at FC Goa -- even though sparse – went a long way towards making him the player he is today. “It was a wonderful journey. I didn’t get regular game time at FC Goa but I used to have time here and there. It boosted my confidence. I realised the standards of the Hero ISL and how to perform. Then I signed for ATK Mohun Bagan and I grabbed that opportunity to give my 100%,” he told footballmonk.com.
Shedding light on his move from FC Goa to ATK Mohun Bagan, Manvir said that a strong pre-season boosted his confidence and allowed him to perform consistently throughout the 2020-21 campaign. “I didn’t get much opportunity at FC Goa. If someone comes in the 80th minute, what can you expect from him in those 10 minutes?
“Later, I spent the pre-season at Minerva Punjab FC in Chandigarh. The pre-season was very satisfactory. That momentum continued throughout the whole season. It levelled up my confidence and performance. It helped me a lot.”
The forward announced himself in Hero ISL 2020-21 with a brilliant strike in the first Kolkata derby of the season. Manvir came on as a substitute for Antonio Lopez Habas’ side in the second half and doubled their lead over city rivals SC East Bengal.
Speaking about his performance in the historic fixture – Hero ISL’s first Kolkata derby -- the India international said, “I felt very proud of myself to score in my first derby. It’s like a festival for ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal fans. It feels great to perform in this match. I realised, if the start went well, the momentum will continue for the entire season. I came on and I scored.”
Manvir has been tipped by many as a potential successor to India captain Sunil Chhetri. Currently in Qatar for the Blue Tigers' remaining three matches of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 joint qualifiers, Manvir, however, understands he needs to do a lot more to live up to those expectations. “I just have to do my hard work to establish myself. Replacing Chhetri is a huge thing, he is a legend. I don’t want to compare myself with him. I have to showcase my own performances,” he said.