"I believe in every player's career there is a time you can call a rough patch," Mihran Manasyan told UEFA.com as he reflected on an injury-plagued spell at Ulisses FC in 2011/12. The 25-year-old striker's dark ages lasted longer than most, but adversity has not stopped him scoring goals.
This season he topped the Armenian rankings with 17 goals for promoted Alashkert FC, even though his side ended up relegated as the bottom club in the eight-team Premier League. "Of course I was happy with every goal and felt a surge of energy, but I would have been happier to trade some of my goals for a better place in the table," he admitted, with the side he joined midway through 2012/13 having managed just six wins in 28 games.
It is not the first time Manasyan has suffered career turbulence. A trainee at FC Pyunik, he made his league debut for the Yerevan giants aged 19 on 6 April 2008, yet while his squad won three top-flight titles, an Armenian Cup and a Super Cup during his stay there, the quick, agile Manasyan played just 19 matches, registering five goals – including four in seven outings in 2009.
Eager for a fresh start, and with no hard feelings, he left Pyunik for Ulisses in 2011, but while desperate to begin a new chapter at his new club, he would be a marginal figure as Ulisses claimed the 2011 championship. "After leaving Pyunik I was bursting to get into action and trained like mad," he recalled. "As bad luck would have it, I suffered an injury, after which I had to leave Ulisses."
Ill fortune continued to dog him thereafter. He started 2012/13 with second-flight outfit King Delux FC, only for the team to be dissolved for financial reasons. Salvation of a sort came when he moved to Alashkert midway through that campaign; he hit 12 goals as his side completed their promotion push, with Alashkert building a squad to thrive at the top level.
Things did not quite go to plan, however. "I was burning with desire to show my worth at Alashkert in the Premier League and prove I was not taking to the pitch just for the sake of it," Manasyan said. "After drawing our first two matches, we felt we could hold our own, but a poor run afterwards proved very difficult to pull out of."
Alashkert did their best to readjust. There was a major change of playing personnel after the first half of the campaign, with Armen Gyulbudaghyants also replacing Armen Sanamyan as coach, yet things never quite gelled. "We started to play more passing football," Manasyan remembered. "I began to score and of course I was happy, but something was holding the team back. We improved but lacked consistency and that undermined our season."
Though Manasyan might have given into despair at this latest blow, he remains positive. "Of course we have to learn from our mistakes, but I believe that one day we can be champions. Why not?" he beamed. "I am an Alashkert player and all I care about is the team's success. Our destiny is in our own hands and we have to keep it that way." Should he maintain that indomitable spirit, that rough patch is sure to end sooner or later.
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