Ted Lasso is a new Apple TV+-exclusive comedy about an American Football coach moving to England to take charge of fictional Premier League club AFC Richmond. In spite of the fact Ted has no actual knowledge of the sport he calls soccer.
Former Saturday Night Live star Jason Sudeikis plays the title character, a sweet-natured optimist who is filled with homespun wisdom, and who has no idea he is a pawn in a game being played by the club’s owner, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham).
But in spite of his footballing ignorance, over the course of the show’s 10 episodes, Ted gradually wins over the players, the fans, and even Welton herself. So we asked the cast of Ted Lasso what would happen if the American continued on his upward trajectory, became England manager, and had to address the team before a big World Cup game.
Sudeikis thinks his character would start by saying sorry, then move the conversation onto England captain Harry Kane: “I think he’d apologise right off the bat. That’s a good question. It would really depend on where his head was at. And his feeling of where it was all at. ‘Get the ball to Harry and get the hell out of the way!’ Something like that maybe?
“‘Set him up and let’s see what this kid can do.’ I think first and foremost he’d probably apologise and assume he’s in the wrong room. Or at least they would.”
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Phil Dunster, who plays the club’s star player Jamie Tartt, thinks Ted should channel England’s World Cup win before focussing on another of the country’s stars, Raheem Sterling: “The spirit of ’66! Sterling, the main thing is you are a top bloke, and you’re obviously an amazing footballer, but I think the whole country is behind you as a person.’ I think that’s probably what he’d go for.”
Hannah Waddingham, who plays the aforementioned Richmond owner, thinks Lasso should make it about money: “‘Score a bloody goal! And earn your money.’ I don’t agree with how much they’re all paid in the first place, so I think he should say ‘Earn your blooming money.’”
Brett Goldstein, who plays club captain Roy Kent, thinks Ted would keep it positive: “He’d say ‘Listen boys, it’s not about winning, so get that out of your heads. Let’s just have a nice time and enjoy this moment because who knows if we’ll be here again.’”
While Brendan Hunt, who co-created the show and plays Lasso’s loyal assistant Coach Beard, thinks Ted would reference an American who owned and briefly managed Chester some 20 years ago: “See this is where I’d like to make a joke about England, but now you’re World Cup semi-finalists, you’re back on the horse” says Hunt. “I think he would do what Terry Smith did for Chester City back in the day – he would drape himself in the American flag and he would emphasise the American Dream, because that’s what I think English people love the most.”
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We also asked the cast to explain that age-old footballing mystery, the offside rule. Sudeikis’s immediate response was “Hell no man!” But when we asked how Ted would cope with the rule, he said: “Poorly. Very poorly. I think he’d get the pint and the vinegar and the English sauce – I think he’d get it all out there then start doing choreography from like a half-time show. I think he’d get lost within his own explanation. Ted and I are not too dissimilar in our understanding of the beautiful game. We recognise it’s beauty, but we don’t know how to get it there.”
The Brits in the cast also struggled, with Waddingham blaming her character by stating: “She’s the owner of the team, she doesn’t need to know the minutiae” and Dunster talking technology before offering a vague definition: “I think someone could do with asking VAR the rules of offside if you ask me! Don’t have someone behind the defenders basically, when the ball’s kicked.”
Nick Mohammed – who plays kit-man Nathan Shelley – didn’t even try, claiming: “I absolutely can’t. I’m not a football fan by any means, so I had to act really hard in the show to prove that I was a fan of football. So I genuinely can’t explain the offside rule. I vaguely know, is it to do with where your defenders are when the ball goes into a certain bit? In the D? Is it in the D?”
While Brendan Hunt was the best of the bunch, stating “It’s based on where the ball is when it is passed forward. The person to whom it is passed cannot be past the last defender. Except for the goalkeeper. But sometimes the goalkeeper is forward and there’s a defender back and that defender kind of counts as the goalkeeper. But it’s where the ball is when it’s passed.”
Ted Lasso streams on Apple TV+ from 14 August, with new episodes debuting weekly on Fridays on the streaming service.