I drive a manual here now and, since I'm British, I hadn't ever driven an automatic before I came here.
I prefer a manual for the fuel economy, which I believe is likely to be better, but probably mostly because it is what I'm used to, which I think applies to most driving preferences, whatever the rationale.
I doubt that manuals are likely to be more reliable, as someone posted above, since on a used car they are more likely to have been abused.
While its probably true that a manual gearbox is cheaper to repair, at the bargain basement end of the market where I operate its unlikely that anyone will be repairing a gearbox of either type.
We reach for the sky. Neither does civilisation.
(Incidentally, if the search button is your friend, you must have some bloody useless, dysfunctional friends)