ESPN Greatest Sporting City: Why Manchester beats Liverpool as best city

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What makes Manchester a great sporting city? (1:39)

After being named ESPN's Greatest Sporting City for 2018, find out what makes Manchester a great place for sport. (1:39)

Manchester has been named 2018's Greatest Sporting City, taking the No. 1 spot from Liverpool, according to research from ESPN and the University of Bath. But what makes the city so great? Manchester United and City correspondents Rob Dawson and Jonathan Smith explain.

Q. So what makes Manchester stand out as a sporting city?

RD: It can be hard to look beyond United and City, two of the biggest football clubs in the world, but Manchester offers more than that. There are a host of lower league clubs that regularly attract attendances in the thousands like Bolton, Wigan, Rochdale, Oldham, Bury and Stockport as well as top-level cricket, rugby union and rugby league teams.

As well as two elite football grounds in Old Trafford -- the biggest club stadium in England -- and the Etihad Stadium, Manchester also boasts some of the best sporting facilities in the country. The National Cycling centre and Stockport Metro swimming club have also helped train a long list of Olympic medallists.

Manchester is not just a sporting city because of teams or facilities, though. It is because of the passion the people here have for whatever sport they follow -- sport is the city's main draw.

United and City are renowned all over the world and tourists visit simply because they are based here. The world's best cricketers have made history at Old Trafford when Australia, India and the rest have toured England. To put it simply, Manchester is famous for sport.

Q. So it's about more than football, but how do Everton and Liverpool compare with United and City right now?

JS: On the pitch, the Merseyside clubs are a long way behind their Manchester rivals. Historically, neither has won the Premier League while seven times in the last 11 years the trophy has landed in Manchester.

In fact, Liverpool have only finished as runners-up once in the last nine years and have struggled to hang on to their best players with Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho all leaving in recent years to win titles elsewhere.

Optimism has increased at Anfield after Liverpool reached the final of the Champions League -- beating City on the way -- but they were 25 points behind over the course of the Premier League season, only securing a top-four spot on the final day of the season. Klopp has spent around £170 million to try to close the gap on the champions and even Everton spent more than their Manchester rivals, splashing out around £90m.

Trophy-wise, Everton and Liverpool have been living off their past glories for a long time and the pressure will grow on the Reds as Klopp aims to end their painful wait for a league title. But, with City in such great form, expect the trophy to stay in Manchester for the foreseeable future.

Q. According to our research, Manchester smashed the competition in terms of attracting local young talent to sport. Why do you think this is?

RD: Lots of towns and cities turn out fantastic athletes but the fact Manchester does so with such regularity is a combination on a number of things.

The passion for sport in the city means children are exposed to it very early. On top of that, the fantastic facilities Manchester boasts helps them develop -- meaning youngsters have a great chance of getting as far as their talent and hard work will take them.

Marcus Rashford is one of the world's most promising footballers and he was nurtured from a young age in United's academy structure. It is a similar story with Phil Foden at City, someone who grew up playing for a highly-regarded youth football set-up at Reddish Vulcans in Stockport.

Matt Parkinson, 21, is a leg spinner with huge potential, now playing for Lancashire and he has had the benefit of using the excellent facilities at Old Trafford having attended Bolton School, who pride themselves on their focus on sport.

There still needs to be more investment in less privileged areas of Greater Manchester but young athletes who grow up here automatically have a head start over the rest of the country.

Q. History and atmosphere also played a big part, what has Manchester done this year?

JS: In football, City have gone down in history for their record-breaking "Centurions" season and joined the debate on being the greatest-ever team of the Premier League era. United are in there for their extraordinary treble-winning season of 1999, as are Arsenal's Invincibles, but Liverpool or Everton are not.

Manchester has the highest average attendance for two top clubs in Europe with a combined total of 129,309 more than Madrid, Glasgow and London's most-watched teams Arsenal and West Ham, while the Merseyside clubs average 92,326 between them.

There could be more success for Lancashire Lightning, who play at the other Old Trafford, when they take part in next season's T20 Blast finals day, hopefully with England cricket sensation Jos Buttler available. Wigan Warriors could bring more Super League success to Greater Manchester after reaching the Super Eight, Sale remain the only north west side in the top flight of rugby union, and 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, like the majority of Great Britain's cycling stars, was schooled at Manchester's Velodrome.

Q. In one sentence, explain why Manchester is better than Liverpool this year.

RD: The only thing Manchester hasn't got is a beach; Liverpool's list is far longer.

JS: Liverpool fans listen to "Yesterday" by The Beatles; in Manchester you're more likely to hear "Be Here Now."

Upon hearing that Manchester was chosen as one of the best places to be fan of sport in the UK, Omar Berrada, Chief Operating Officer, Manchester City said: "Manchester's recognition as one of the best places in the country to be a sports fan is testament to the wide range of sports we have to offer, and something that our whole city can be proud of. The 2017/18 season was a very special one for Manchester City fans in particular as the Club secured its third Premier League title, breaking several records along the way, with some truly incredible moments that will live long in the memory. We congratulate our fellow sporting organisations from across the city who have contributed to Manchester's position as the UK's Greatest Sporting City for 2018."