A cyclist who was nearly killed after being hurled into a canal by a "psychopath" has added to rumours there is a "Manchester Pusher" targeting innocent victims.

The 34-year-old office worker was cycling home when he was knocked into a canal before being kicked back into the water after he desperately tried to escape.

It has now sparked suggestions that a man is attacking people as they walk and cycle along the canals near the city centre.

There have been at least 76 deaths in the city's waterways since 2007 but any suggestion of a "pusher" had simply been an urban myth. Seventeen of those deaths were "unexplained".

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David Plunkett was 21 when he was found drowned in Manchester Ship Canal after a night out with friends. Photo / Getty
David Plunkett was 21 when he was found drowned in Manchester Ship Canal after a night out with friends. Photo / Getty

However, the latest victim was luckily enough to survive his ordeal and revealed that the assailant did not steal anything and was quick to sprint away from the scene.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, he described his attacker as being white and between the age of 20 and 40.

Greater Manchester Police said the man told them about the incident near Old Trafford last Tuesday and said he almost drowned because he legs became trapped in his bike.

Officers are said to be treating the incident as assault rather than attempted murder and are not linking it to any of the deaths in the canals.

The victim, a father-of-two, told the newspaper: "He was a complete psychopath. Even when I went in, he tried to stop me getting back out. He didn't try to steal anything.

"It was 10pm. I was working the late shift and coming home late. I saw a man out of the corner of my eye and he swung his arm and it caught me on my neck.

"I was underwater with my legs twisted in the bike. I managed to get above water and tried to get a grip on the side of the canal, where it was slippery and mossy. That's when he kicked my hands away, which made me slip back under the water again.

"When I came back up, he was gone. I saw him running away. I managed to get out of the canal."

His mobile phone stopped working because he was in the water and phoned police from a nearby gym.

The wife of the victim had written on a local Facebook page and described her husband's attacker as a "canal pusher".

The attacker is of average height, with a "normal hairstyle" and was wearing a black jacket.

The victim added: "I asked the police about the 'Manchester Pusher' legend and they were well aware of the stories.

"I definitely feel like I'm lucky to be alive. I could easily have drowned because of what he did."

Andy Sutcliffe, Greater Manchester Police's Chief Inspector, told the newspaper: "I understand, given the circumstances of this report, that people will be alarmed.

"But I need to stress there is no evidence to suggest that this is linked to any other incidents and we've had no further reports."

Eight of the Manchester canal victims have been students while 17 of the deaths have been recorded as "unexplained".

Speculation surrounding the "Manchester pusher" has been widely reported in the past and Channel 4 ran a documentary in 2016 titled Manchester's Serial Killer?

Nathan Tomlinson, left, was pulled from River Irwell in 2011 and Souvik Pal was found in Bridgewater Canal in 2012.
Nathan Tomlinson, left, was pulled from River Irwell in 2011 and Souvik Pal was found in Bridgewater Canal in 2012.

Senior detective Tony Blockley appeared on the show and examined evidence purporting to support the allegation that the same person may well be responsible for a catalogue of killings.

His probe focused on the deaths of three men - Souvik Pal, 18, and 21-year-olds David Plunkett and Nathan Tomlinson.

The body of Pal - a design student in Manchester - was discovered in the Bridgewater Canal three weeks after he had been ejected from a 2012 New Year's Eve party at the Warehouse Project nightclub in Trafford Park.

A coroner recorded an open verdict into his death, admitting she did not know how he ended up in the water.

David Plunkett had been at a concert at the Daytona Racetrack, also in Trafford Park, before he went missing in April 2004.

He was found dead in the Manchester Ship Canal. Police are adamant the 21-year-old drowned accidentally.

That view, however, is not shared by his parents Michael and Anne.

They are adamant evidence they experienced first hand points to David's death being the result of sinister and deadly act.

The third death which was examined was that of trainee sports teacher Nathan Tomlinson, from Stockport.

His body was pulled from the River Irwell in February 2011. He had been out with friends two months before.

Despite still being clothed, the 21-year-old was found without his coat, phone, passport and wallet.

An inquest into his death failed to establish if Tomlinson died before or after hitting the water.