What makes a good football manager? FFT sits down with Jason Sudeikis, star of new Premier League comedy Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso
(Image credit: AppleTV+)

From Mike Bassett to Sunderland 'Til I Die, tales of football management ineptitude always make for addictive TV. Fans of the genre are in for their biggest face-palming treat yet, with the release of new sitcom Ted Lasso (opens in new tab)

The 10-episode series, available to stream on Apple TV+ (opens in new tab) from August 14, follows the bumbling efforts of its titular character as he attempts to make the jump from college football (the American kind) to the world of Premier League “soccer”. Ahead of its release, FourFourTwo had the pleasure of a virtual sit-down with its co-writer and star Jason Sudeikis, he of We’re the Millers, Horrible Bosses and The Angry Birds Movie

“The series started life when NBC bought the rights to show the Premier League,” a sadly no longer moustachioed Sudeikis excitedly tells FFT. “They wanted to do a promo that would endear English football to American football fans. So we came up with this character, did a commercial and people really responded to it. It helped get people here in the states interested in the Premier League.”

In the original NBC ads, Lasso is an American football coach who gets hired by Tottenham, falls in love with the beautiful game and then returns to coach a girls youth soccer side in the US. This series, though, sees him hired by fictional top-flight club AFC Richmond. 

“We wanted to pick somewhere that had the best pubs for post-shoot beers,” Sudeikis laughs. “But no, finding an area that didn’t already have a Premier League club was key; we didn’t want to go through all the legal mumbo-jumbo that using a real club would entail.

“Also, by making up our own club, we realised we opened up this whole world of material – the history of this football team, what the Latin phrase on the badge might mean, and all those great things that make a football club unique. The jokes spilled out of us; we had the whole series mapped out in a week.” 

In the pilot episode, a fresh off the plane Lasso tells an incredulous press room that you could “fill two internets” with the things he doesn’t know about football. So how does Sudeikis’s knowledge compare?

“I love football but I would describe myself, a little like Ted, as ignorant but curious," he admits. “My co-star Brendan Hunt (who plays Lasso’s assistant, Coach Beard, and also co-wrote the show) is a big Arsenal supporter and his infectious knowledge of the game spilled over to me when we were writing the series.”

One thing FFT readers will be interested to know is if this transferred into Sudeikis supporting a Premier League team. 

“Not really, but I always play as Liverpool or Manchester City on FIFA as I know their players the best,” he says. “But I also love the two coaches at those clubs. They seem like great people. You’d gladly have Pep or Klopp as a neighbour.”

While FFT imagines having Guardiola for a neighbour might be terrible (imagine how awful his perfect lawn would make you feel about your own) we get his point. So, how does Lasso compare as a manager to those greats?

“Ted doesn’t know the first thing about football, of course, but he’s a good coach.” smiles Sudeikis. “He knows what it takes to bring the best out of people and to help his players.” 

As viewers might expect, Lasso brings an American can-do attitude to a job he's woefully unprepared for, as the reasons for his hiring soon become clear. But there's more to the fist-pumping, slogan-spewing manager than meets the eye.  

Is it enough to turn around the fortunes of a struggling Premier League club? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see.

TED LASSO will be on Apple TV+ (opens in new tab) from August 14 with new episodes debuting weekly on Fridays on the streaming service. You can sign up for Apple TV+ for free for seven days now (opens in new tab).

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Ed McCambridge
Staff Writer

Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Favourite FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.