Next season, two of the best managers in the world– Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola – will rekindle their old rivalry in Manchester.
With the addition of new players at both City and United, next season looks set to be one of the most exciting in memory – with Manchester at the heart of it.
It doesn’t end there, though. Here are four sports stars who have fired Manchester into the sporting spotlight in the last few months:
Michael Bisping – UFC Middleweight Champion
Manchester’s @bisping wins UFC Middleweight championship with this knockout. https://t.co/Fr1rPMIoNN
— UFC (@UFCStuff) June 5, 2016
British MMA veteran Bisping shocked the world with a comprehensive first round knockout of Luke Rockhold in Vegas to claim the UFC Middleweight title. By rights, this shouldn’t have happened. The Clitheroe-born star, who fights out of Manchester, wasn’t even supposed to be there and had been drafted in as an 11th hour replacement for injured former champion Chris Weidman.
He arrived straight off the set of a movie on 12 days’ notice as an unfancied journeyman in the twilight of his career who had already lost convincingly to Rockhold in 2014. Throughout the short but intense media burst following the announcement, it seemed like only Bisping felt he would win the title, despite his win against UFC legend Anderson Silva last time out.
It was as impressive a ‘smash and grab’ underdog story as you’re likely to see in sports, and all eyes now turn to see whether Bisping can cement his status as champion with either a rematch against Rockhold or a fight vs. Weidman looking like the next move.
Marcus Rashford – Manchester United and England
See all of @MarcusRashford‘s senior goals for #mufc – including this beauty – here: https://t.co/ywhG1LXs2A https://t.co/lzwbXrYZ7t
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) June 4, 2016
Back in December when 18-year old Marcus Rashford was announced in the Europa League starting line-up against Midtjylland, it felt more a result of bad planning and transfer failings of then manager Louis Van Gaal than it did an admirable desire to invest in the clubs youth players. If we’re being honest, it most likely was.
Whatever the motive, Rashford has seized his unexpected opportunity with both hands. Since scoring twice on his United debut, he has gone on to bag another six goals for the club, scored spectacularly two minutes into his England debut and subsequently played himself into the England squad for the European Championships in France at the expense of seasoned in-form veterans like Jermain Defoe.
If you had asked United fans at Christmas to assess the chances of one of their hitherto unknown youngsters playing themselves into both the first team and England squad in little over four months, they would probably have rated it less likely than Van Gaal still sitting in the Old Trafford dugout writing his endless notes at the end of the season. Somehow, he was. And it was likely Rashford who kept him there.
Tyson Fury – WBO & WBA Heavyweight Boxing Champion
13 world champs but only 1 of these guys. pic.twitter.com/rOC00bNML8
— #Gypsyking (@Tyson_Fury) May 29, 2016
With a name which only works if you happen to be really good at punching people in the face, and a voice like someone not from Manchester trying to do a Manchester accent, Tyson Fury undoubtedly divides opinion both in and out of the boxing world. Nevertheless, you can’t really argue with the what he achieved back in December when he defeated long-standing champion Wladimir Klitschko in Germany to become the heavyweight champion of the world.
Klitschko just couldn’t lose, especially not on points in Germany. This was the general consensus at any rate. Yet where David Haye had previously tried and failed, Wythenshawe born Fury came and conquered. He didn’t just beat Klitschko, he easily beat him to claim the belt in spectacular fashion, before using the boxing world’s biggest platform to belt out an Aerosmith song to his missus.
Since then, he’s caused quite a stir in the media with a string of controversial statements, but all focus will be firmly back on his boxing when he takes on Klitschko in the rematch in Manchester on 9 July.
Anthony Crolla – WBA Lightweight Champion
NOV: @ant_crolla achieved his dream in what was an incredibly emotional moment in Manchester.https://t.co/oTKKxmj9ql
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) June 2, 2016
Anthony Crolla’s journey to the lightweight title was rockier than most, which has undeniably made it all the more impressive. Back in January 2015, Crolla had been all set for a much-deserved title shot against Richard Abril, only for Crolla to have to drop out due to injury. He had sustained a broken ankle and fractured skull during a burglary. After an extended lay off, Crolla finally got his opportunity at the title in November 2015, defeating Darleys Perez with a crushing body shot in the fifth round to become the lightweight champion and complete a brilliant career comeback. In May this year, Crolla recorded his first title defence in Manchester against heavy-hitting Ismael Barroso, tactically outclassing the Venezuelan, letting him punch himself of out of steam before claiming another body shot finish in the seventh. A title unification fight with fellow Mancunian Terry Flanagan could be next in what would be an incredible night for Manchester boxing.