Want to follow the Premier League for real? Here’s how

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The Ted Lasso fan’s guide to the Premier League: Your starting point for the 2022-23 season

The Ted Lasso fan’s guide to the Premier League: Your starting point for the 2022-23 season

By The Athletic Soccer staff. Aug 5, 2022

We’re not sure when Ted Lasso’s third and (maybe) final season will drop, but it’s never too early to start preparing for how you’ll fill the void once it ends — and this week provides the perfect opportunity. AFC Richmond won promotion back up to the Premier League at the end of the show’s second season, but the real thing kicks off on Friday for another year with plenty of comedy and drama of its own. So if you’re one of the many Ted Lasso fans who haven’t gotten invested in the real-life Premier League just yet, now’s the time to dive in — if only so you’ll be prepared for all the new details sure to be included in season three.

Ted Lasso’s landmark licensing deal with the Premier League means lines between the two will be blurred more than ever when it does return. Announced last October, and worth as much as £500,000 ($680,000), the deal allows the show to go all-in on with AFC Richmond’s promotion: they can now use Premier League archive footage, logos, kits and, notably, even the trophy. 

It’s not the only major licensing deal for the show ahead of the third season. Nike has been tapped to outfit the fictional club, so it might be slightly easier for American fans of the show to source a Richmond kit than some of the real Premier League teams later on this year.

So, if you’re an American viewer ready to spend some weekend mornings watching footy (no one will judge if you drink a beer at 7 a.m. here), we’ve got the complete Ted Lasso-inspired guide to the Premier League.

How to watch in the U.S. 

If you have the brain space to add an email login and password for another streaming service, then get to know Peacock. You’ll quickly understand that the most tantalizing games of the weekend are not accessible for the average cable subscriber, but buried within the depths of this app’s colorful feathers. Unless you opt to support Nottingham Forest (honestly, kudos if you do), you might find yourself ponying up the $4.99 a month to make sure a Liverpool-Manchester City meeting is viewable. 

If you care to live dangerously, you can check the TV Guide app to see when the USA Network interrupts its blocks of Law & Order SVU episodes to air select matches. 

Of course, following along with The Athletic’s unrivaled Premier League coverage will keep you on top of all the storylines and tactical battles, but if you want to accelerate your fandom, there may be no better way to keep yourself invested from week to week than by signing up for a fantasy league. The potential shame of dropping points is a great motivator for some — and if you need some help as a beginner, we’ve got you covered (start here though).

Who to support: The four primary paths

If you’re letting the show guide your real-life Premier League journey, there are four main clubs to consider supporting: 

Crystal Palace: This South London club is essentially the basis for AFC Richmond, even though Crystal Palace exists in the show’s universe (Richmond loses to Palace in episode two). Nelson Road Stadium is actually Palace’s Selhurst Park, and Ted Lasso executive producer/writer Bill Wrubel is the nephew of one of the club’s owners, according to co-creator Bill Lawrence

“We had to find a Premier League team that would let us use their facilities and what we would base our team on: a local, community team as opposed to any of the big juggernauts,” said Lawrence. And since it was stipulated that they had to shoot in London, Crystal Palace fit the bill.

Although Palace doesn’t have an American manager (their French manager, Patrick Vieira did coach New York City FC in MLS for a short time, though), they do now have an American player in Chris Richards, who took an interesting path to the Premier League himself. 

Team you now hate if you support Crystal Palace: Brighton

Leeds United: If you’re most invested in Ted Lasso as an American trying to get by in the Premier League, then Leeds United might be the club for you. They do have a real, live American head coach in Jesse Marsch (who has a standing invitation to appear on the show), and they even have two American players in Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams. Plus, the club is co-owned by the San Francisco 49ers, so there’s even an American football link. For everything you need to know about America’s new Premier League team, check out Amitai Winehouse’s explainer

Teams you now hate if you support Leeds United: Manchester United, Chelsea

Tottenham Hotspur: For the Ted Lasso originalists. Nearly nine years on to the day of Ted’s world debut, Spurs are one of the most followed clubs in the States. A good-but-not-great club with a stadium designed to also host an NFL franchise and a revolving door of wildly different head coaches, Tottenham has attractive star players who keep them in the running for a Champions League spot (as Ted senselessly said in his 2013 arrival, no playoffs make his job that much easier — not really. To qualify for the UEFA Champions League, clubs must finish within the top four of the standings each year). Spurs fans can brag they were first to bestow a nickname for Ted, too.

Teams you now hate if you support Spurs: ArsenalChelsea

West Ham: Have you had enough of Ted? Are you siding with Nate in his departure from Richmond? Then, like him, it’s off to West Ham you go! We don’t know much about Nathan Shelley’s new life as manager of the East London club yet, but the real West Ham have challenged the Premier League’s bigger clubs in recent years. Plus they have bubble machines

If Ted Lasso isn’t your first foray into Hollywood’s take on English football, then you might remember West Ham from the Elijah Wood film Green Street Hooligans, about an American who has a decidedly different experience with the game compared to Ted. 

Teams you now hate if you support West Ham: Millwall (not in the Premier League), Spurs, AFC Richmond

The other options

If none of the above four clubs strike your fancy, then here’s a quick word on all the rest. (Find out how current fans are feeling about each club heading into the season with our patented hope-o-meter, and if you’re wondering where some of these names come from, read Dom Fifield’s incredible deep dive into the origins of English football club names.)

Arsenal: Based in North London, Arsenal always seem to find new ways to frustrate their many fans around the world. American owner Stan Kroenke has drawn the ire of those supporters with his refusal to invest in the club at the level necessary to challenge for the Premier League title. The byproducts of this can be quite entertaining

Aston Villa: Tom Hanks, an actor who surely ranks as one of Ted’s favorites, is an Aston Villa fan. And, really, what more do you need to know than that? 

Bournemouth: The Cherries really just seem happy to be here. Like Ted, their head coach, Scott Parker, gets ribbed for the way he talks, too, which is less like a college football coach and more like the guy from The Streets. They may not spend much money or have space for too many fans in their stadium (just 11,364 capacity!), but they’ve survived near-certain folding, the fourth division and they’ve never looked back. They’re as capable of losing 1-0 via a bad VAR call as they are of topping Liverpool or Chelsea by scoring four goals. At least they keep it fun out there. 

Brentford: A West London club that has made a dream-like rise up the ranks of English football over the last decade, Brentford has won admirers along the way. Plus, they are the Bees. BEES.

Brighton and Hove Albion: Looking to escape from the big city? Would you like to lounge on the beach before taking in a match? Then Brighton is the club for you. Like Richmond, Brighton puts a focus on the mental health of their players — they have a mental wellbeing manager on staff. Brighton appears to be the club that Richmond replaced in the show’s universe. 

Chelsea: The American connections in southwest London are twofold — new, very hands-on owner Todd Boehly and U.S. national team star Christian Pulisic. Chelsea has become a massively successful club over the last two decades, and they’ve done it while in a seemingly constant state of turmoil. 

Everton: Do you love pain? Pick Everton. In the show, the Liverpudlian club is a formidable opponent for Richmond, with a 60-year success streak against the Greyhounds. But in real life? There is only pain. 

Fulham: When Richmond went to face Everton in the show, they didn’t actually go to Goodison Park in Liverpool, they filmed in London at Fulham’s charming old stadium, Craven Cottage. Fulham has had a number of American players over the years (so many that they were dubbed “Fulhamerica” at one point), like Clint Dempsey and Brian McBride. In the current squad, they have two: defenders Tim Ream and Antonee “Jedi” Robinson. 

Leicester City: The Foxes had perhaps the most improbable season in Premier League history when they went on a Cinderella run to claim the Premier League title in 2015-16 — becoming one of only seven clubs to win the title since the league’s inception in 1992. Could this be used as inspiration for Ted Lasso season three? 

Liverpool: Long England’s most successful club, Liverpool has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years with manager Jurgen Klopp (more on him in a bit) after a long stretch without a Premier League title. Now back to their winning ways under the ownership of U.S. based Fenway Sports Group, the good vibes are flowing at Anfield Stadium. If your musical tastes range from Broadway to pop, the Reds might be for you. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel, “One Kiss” by Dua Lipa and Calvin Harris, “Freed from Desire” by GALA — the players and supporters alike love a singalong.

Manchester City: With an influx of cash from the United Arab Emirates, Man City has emerged from Manchester United’s shadow and become a behemoth over the last decade. The reigning Premier League champions are led by revered manager Pep Guardiola, who is known for both his tactical brilliance and for spending more on his trend-setting matchday outfits than most of us make in a calendar year. Star signing Erling Haaland is the type of player who could inspire a new character in the show (or maybe even make an appearance?). 

Manchester United: The Premier League’s most successful club has become a bit of a punchline since the retirement of legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Owned by the deeply unpopular Glazer family, this is the team that probably needs Roy Kent the manager and full-time ass-kicker as much as any in the league. They could also probably use some therapy sessions with Dr. Sharon Fieldstone. 

Newcastle United: Mired in controversy since being purchased by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in 2021, the northern club has been consumed by discussion about sportswashing — a topic familiar to Ted Lasso viewers after season two’s storyline about Sam Obisanya and Dubai Air. It remains to be seen whether any Newcastle players will take a similar stand.

Nottingham Forest: Like Richmond, recently promoted, and like Richmond, could use all of Thierry Zoreaux’s goalkeeping heroics to keep opponents out of the net. Forest has already made an appearance in the show, and Ted would surely be delighted to know that their stadium, the City Ground, has a Robin Hood suite

Southampton: If you find uncertainty enjoyable, the south coast club may be for you. The Saints might be in a relegation fight this season, but how they ultimately fare is really anyone’s guess.  

Wolverhampton: Perhaps the Premier League’s most enticingly named club, Wolves have been comfortably midtable in recent years. If you’re fond of the Portuguese, this is the team for you

Character comparisons

Ted Lasso: As a fellow American, Leeds manager Jesse Marsch is the easiest comparison, but the character was partially inspired by Liverpool’s joyous German manager, Jurgen Klopp (the idea of taking the team to karaoke came from something Jason Sudeikis heard about Klopp). The Premier League manager most like Lasso, however, might be Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta. Just watch this clip and tell us this isn’t something Ted Lasso would do: 

Jamie Tartt is Manchester City midfielder Jack Grealish. He’s supremely talented and would fit right in on Lust Conquers All. Grealish couldn’t recognize a map of England, but his hair is always gelled to perfection and his shin guards are basically nonexistent. We’re not saying Grealish doesn’t smash vanilla vodka at the clubs like Richmond’s No. 9, but we’re not not saying it, either.

Roy Kent: This is another clear one. Roy Kent is former Manchester United midfielder/hard man and current pundit Roy Keane. Like Kent, Keane has also done a bit of coaching, but regardless of his role, he excels at one thing in particular: being angry.  

Dani Rojas: There are a few comparisons here. Leeds’ Brenden Aaronson has the vibes of an excitable North American with a Rojas-esque head of hair. Meanwhile, it’d be hard to find a player more universally beloved for his joyful playing style than Tottenham winger Son Heung-min. And lastly, the Dani Rojas smile certainly worth several million Euros is hard to replicate but Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino shows off the pearly whites as good as anyone in the league.

Sam Obisanya: Currently without a club, Juan Mata mixes Sam’s social consciousness with an unwavering niceness that makes him endlessly likable. And Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is universally beloved for his infectious smile

Nathan Shelley: The writers seem to be taking Nate the Great in a Jose Mourinho type broodingly ruthless direction, but Mourinho isn’t managing in the Premier League anymore. So for our purposes we’ll say he’s a bit like Spurs manager Antonio Conte in that he has become sure of his brilliance and is fueled by an inner rage that can explode at any moment. Plus the two share a penchant for dressing in black. 

Rebecca Welton seems to be modeled after West Ham vice-chairwoman Karren Brady. She has long been a pioneer in English football, but it’s unclear whether she can belt out “Let It Go” the way Rebecca can. 

Led Tasso:  Unassuming Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel is probably the closest comparison here. If any manager in the Premier League looks to be having a worse day each and every day, please point them out. But nobody will top Tuchel, who lives in his baseball caps and track suits like Ted’s mean-spirited alter ego that Coach Beard is legitimately terrified of. But like Tuchel, Coach Tasso gets results, so who is going to argue? 

The real Premier League player you would want to give you a haircut in the dressing room, like Isaac McAdoo

When the clippers buzz, the lights dim and the team crowds around the center of the dressing room, who do you trust? It depends on what you’re looking for. Isaac, who Ted once called “a Rodin sculpture in cleats,” is undoubtedly an artist with the shears. If you’re out to keep it tight as possible, Man City’s Phil Foden could be your man. He’s surely developed an eye for precision with the amount of lines shaved into the side of his head.

The Premier League manager you would like to be on an all-night bender with

Ted wasn’t with Coach Beard for his wild night, but if a real Premier League manager were to accompany you on a similar journey, Klopp would be an obvious choice as someone who knows how to have a good time. Guardiola would know all the coolest places to go, but Brentford manager Thomas Frank is the sneaky pick here. He pledged to go on a pub crawl if Brentford won promotion to the Premier League a couple years back. He just seems like a guy who knows how to party. 

Manager most likely to bring his boss homemade biscuits every morning

Back in his days as Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers was often maligned as a David Brent type character who was a bit too full of himself. But over the years a fuller view of Rodgers has emerged, and he seems to have found a home at Leicester City. Rodgers has developed a bond with Leicester owner Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha (known as “Top”) that one could imagine manifesting into the gift of daily biscuits. Srivaddhanaprabha’s father, Vichai, died in a helicopter crash in 2018 — a loss that led to a deeper connection with Rodgers. 

“Having lost my father, and knowing probably what he (Top) had been through, I think from the very first time we met that brought us really close together,” Rodgers said after winning the FA Cup with Leicester last year. “That synergy has been there ever since really.

“To be able to give him that, it’s obviously the first time (Leicester have won the FA Cup). Him and his father, it was a trophy that they really wanted to win so I was aware of that.

“To share that joy and see him so happy having been through so much, he’s had to get on with his life and live with that and try and be in that process of healing whilst being in the spotlight. Giving him that level of joy and happiness, it made me feel very good.”

OK, so maybe the gift of the FA Cup is a bit better than biscuits. 

Connections to the women’s game

We’re still wishing that AFC Richmond would add a women’s side, but the good news is that if you want to extend your viewing beyond the boys, you’ve got plenty of options across the Women’s Super League, too. Only 12 clubs currently feature in the English league, so if you want to support Crystal Palace, for instance, you’ll need to turn to the Championship (the confusingly named second division). The WSL tends to be a bit top heavy, with Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea leading the way and usually picking up Champions League qualification spots year after year.

If you’re looking to match the experience of a recently promoted team trying their luck in the top division, look no further than Liverpool — Matt Beard (former coach of the NWSL’s Boston Breakers) leads the squad, and they’ll be hoping for a return to glory after winning the Women’s Super League under his guidance in 2013 and 2014. It’s potentially a perfect storyline, made all the more dramatic by Liverpool’s treatment of the team and lack of ambition. Will things be different in 2022? You’re going to have to watch to find out.

And if you’re already watching the NWSL on Paramount+, it’s going to be easier than ever to add more women’s soccer into the mix — starting this year, CBS has picked up the rights to the WSL. Some matches will be on CBS Sports Network, but most will be on Paramount+ for the length of their deal.

Now, if you’re just watching Ted Lasso for Hannah Waddingham (a valid decision!), there’s one more option for you here. She’s hosting the podcast “Hustle Rule,” based on author Gwendolyn Oxenham’s book Under the Lights and in the Dark, a collection of stories about women’s soccer from around the world.

Meg Linehan, Chris Kamrani, Jeff Rueter, Steph Yang and Brooks Peck contributed to this guide. 

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