“Ted Lasso,” Translated: Well, It Could Have Been Worse

Here are three examples of the real-life rivalry matches gone horribly wrong—yup, even worse than the big match loss on this week’s episode

Fiction is fascinating, but it never holds a feather to the real thing. With a new season of Apple’s Emmy-winning megahit Ted Lasso on our screens, LAMag decided it’s time we Yanks learn the real stories behind the characters and situations that make up the Lassoverse; while the show’s clever writers arrange the mechanics of British footie all quite nicely, plenty of these storylines are plucked from the real-life people and drama of the U.K.’s football leagues.

[Spoilers ahead!]

In sports, rivalries are everything, and this week’s episode of Ted Lasso sees AFC Richmond head across London to take on their brand-new rivals, West Ham United. This fixture, as the Brits call a specific matchup, has taken on an added dimension, with rivalries between the owners and managers flooding, rather than trickling, down to the playing squads.

Unfortunately for fans of the Greyhounds, the pressure of the derby proved too much for Richmond’s players, and they unraveled. A final score of 4-1 only half illuminates the drubbing, as Richmond finished the match with three players fewer than they started after a series of violent offenses earned a trio of Richmond players red cards. (A red card is an ejection; depending on the manner in which it is earned, it can also come with a follow-up suspension.)

As real-life NBC announcer Arlo White says of the match: “It went from evenly matched to unevenly matched to light a match on fire and put it into a can of petrol.”

Few real-life matches have managed Richmond and West Ham’s combination of pre-match rancor, goal output, and red cards, but a few recently explosive rivalry matches could have served as a collective inspiration as the Lasso writers scripted Richmond’s downfall.

Chelsea v. Tottenham Hotspur 8/14/2022

The thing about Richmond and West Ham’s first matchup is that while nearly everybody reached and eclipsed their boiling points, the two most important figures, Nate and Ted, were pretty tame throughout the match.

There was no such even-tempered behavior from Tottenham and Chelsea managers Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel this past August.

Conte and Tuchel each celebrated goals by running and jumping in front of the opposition dugout, and—shocker—neither of them appreciated it too much. When Tottenham tied the match in the final minutes, the game ended in a draw, satisfying neither manager. The two met for a customary handshake, but Tuchel grabbed and yanked Conte’s arm, claiming the Italian did not look him in the eye.

Both coaching staffs entered into a fracas, and the managers of each earned post-match red cards. As a neutral, this was high entertainment. With that said, neither Conte nor Tuechel is employed by the club they managed as recently as August—so perhaps it’s a good sign for show continuity that Ted and Nate avoided a physical altercation.

Chelsea v. Arsenal 3/22/14

In 2014, Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho were like Ted Lasso and Nathan Shelley after 15 years of success. Mourinho’s Chelsea Blues hailed from West London, and Wenger’s Arsenal Gunners from North London, and, this century, the only rival these clubs have for the title of London’s biggest club is the other.

Seven minutes into this March 2014 match, it was clear that London would be blue. Chelsea was up two goals before the game’s first beers were finished, and a red card for Arsenal opened the floodgates. Much like Richmond, Arsenal fell apart after the red card. Final score: 6-0 to Chelsea.

That it was Wenger’s 1,000th match at the helm of the Gunners, only made it sweeter for Mourinho. He left the pitch early to call his wife and deliver the good news. It should come as no surprise then, that the next year, Wenger and Mourinho came to blows in another London derby.

Liverpool v. Manchester United 3/5/2023

In the Lassoverse, Richmond and West Ham are firmly among the league leaders, a fact which added excitement and tension to their match, but even when teams are not at their best, the rivalries are fierce all the same.

In March, a resurgent Manchester United traveled to Liverpool to take on their historic rivals. Two of England’s most storied clubs, Manchester United and Liverpool neutralized each other for 40 minutes before Liverpool erupted for a seven-nil victory. As with West Ham, a late first-half goal turned the match firmly in Liverpool’s favor, and they poured half a dozen balls into the back of Manchester United’s net in the second half.

As of today, Liverpool is in 8th to Man U’s 5th, despite this drubbing. So there is yet hope for the Greyhounds of Richmond.

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