Hyde Road winds through the driving rain of May in Manchester to reach the gym owned and run by Ricky Hatton, the city's favourite son in the boxing ring – who came from the rough Hattersley housing estate and out of nowhere in 2005 to become world welterweight champion for more than four years. Now, on the gym's upper floor, Hatton is training boxers for his biggest night yet as a promoter, featuring four title fights.
On the walls behind the ropes of the practice ring are posters from Hatton's days as a champion, one advertising a bout with José Luis Castillo in Las Vegas, which Manchester United stars David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand flew to watch. There's a photograph of Rooney with Hatton after the fight. But here's the rub: Hatton's signature tune every time he entered the ring was Blue Moon, Manchester City's song. And before his big night as a promoter at Manchester's Velodrome on 16 June, Hatton has another major engagement – right over the road as a spectator at Eastlands stadium, where his beloved City are one home game against QPR short of winning their first Premier League title, and their first league championship since 1968.
If they fail – and Rooney, Ferdinand et al gather more points at Sunderland – United will continue business as usual and take their 20th league title. But if City succeed against QPR, who have their own survival interests at stake, the resurgence, rise and riches of sky blue Manchester will have not only transformed the Premier League, but blown a hurricane of change through the city in which the football league was founded in 1888.