New Aston Villa boss Gerard Houllier admits he had expected Martin O'Neill to succeed him as Liverpool manager "on several occasions".
Now the roles are reversed with Houllier taking charge of Villa after O'Neill quit the midlands club five days before the start of the new season.
The Frenchman is quick to pay tribute to the solid base and promising squad O'Neill has left at his disposal after twice narrowly missing out on securing a Champions League spot.
Now Houllier will try to take Villa to the next level once he has tied up the loose ends with the French Football Federation where he worked as technical director. Caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald will take charge of Monday's clash at Stoke which Houllier will watch on television in his homeland.
Houllier said: "Several times I thought Martin would succeed me at Liverpool. All I know is that he a great manager and brought up a good squad at Aston Villa. This is one of the reasons we have a good base to work from.
"It is difficult to succeed to him - but it is always difficult to succeed to anybody. When it is difficult, it is exciting. I trust the squad, I trust the players, I believe there is potential here to do something well. We will do our best to achieve what we want and more. It will take time but we know that. My philosophy is progress, performance, and pleasure."