Pep Guardiola’s first Premier League title helped Manchester be named the UK’s greatest sporting city for 2018.
According to research from ESPN and the University of Bath, Manchester came out on top after scoring highly in many of the 12 factors, significantly club success/results and value for money, identified by fans.
Key to its success was Manchester City’s double success in winning the title and the Carabao Cup and, to a lesser extent, rivals Manchester United finishing second in the table and reaching the FA Cup final.
Manchester, which has never been outside the top two since winning the inaugural greatest sporting city title in 2015, displaced Liverpool in top spot.
Edinburgh leapt seven places from 10th last year, knocking London out of the top three for the first time.
“Manchester is blessed with two of the biggest clubs not just in the UK, but the whole of Europe, so City and United’s strong performances last season have helped take them back to the top spot,” said assistant professor Thomas Curran at the University of Bath.
Asked what made Manchester such a great sporting city, United midfielder Ander Herrera said: “First of all for the history of this club, I think that makes the city very interesting, very attractive.
“Second, because the last two-top positions in the league are two teams from Manchester, also because two of the best managers in the world are in Manchester.”
Messi also believes the Serie A giants are now among the clear favourites to win this season’s Champions League.
Ronaldo swapped Spain for Italy in a deal worth €100 million in July, after sealing a third consecutive European crown, and his fourth in five years with Los Blancos.
But Messi, who missed out on a three-man shortlist for FIFA’s world player of the year award on Monday, feels the balance may have shifted following the 33-year-old’s exit.
“I was surprised, I didn’t imagine him leaving Madrid or that he would go to Juve because there was talk of many clubs (interested). The truth is I was very surprised but Juve are also a very good team,” Messi told Catalunya Radio.
“Real Madrid are one of the best teams in the world and they have a great squad but it’s obvious the departure of Ronaldo makes them less strong while Juve have become a clear favourite for the Champions League.
“They already had a good team and now they also have Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Lionel Messi has been omitted from the shortlist for FIFA’s men’s player of the year award, which features Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Mohamed Salah.
Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi had featured in the top three for 11 straight years. He was runner-up in the prize in 2007 and 2008 before winning the title for the first of five years in 2009.
Portugal and Juventus forward Ronaldo, like Messi, is a five-time winner, and has reached the top three alongside Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder Modric and Salah, the Egypt and Liverpool forward.