"Soccer is 'timing'. These are the moments for it to coincide and for that marriage to happen. Sometimes it’s just a matter of time. I don’t believe in trains passing only once. I think that sometimes you have to have the necessary patience and you have to know how to wait. The 'timing' is handled by football."
That is how Mauricio Pochettino reflected on being overlooked for the Manchester United job in November 2022, after Erik ten Hag was hired ahead of him while he was heading towards the end of an ill-fated stint at Paris Saint-Germain. The former Tottenham boss had routinely been favourite for the role, but United went for the Dutchman after he wowed the board in the interview process.
Thirteen months on, Pochettino is preparing to take his Chelsea side to face Ten Hag's United; two teams mired in transition, it feels as though they both are slowly heading in opposite directions. The Argentine could so easily have been in the home dugout, though, and as Ten Hag continues to toil, there may well be some regret within the walls of Old Trafford that he isn't.