OK England, You Can't Label Every American Coach 'Ted Lasso' And Expect A Laugh
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The arrival of Jesse Marsch in the Premier League as Leeds United manager marks the third instance of an American guiding a soccer franchise in Britain's Major Top League (The BMTL). He'll need all his dudes on board if he wants to make the playoffs, but there's probably a Brazilian available in the draft if they tank so it's all good.
Marsch takes over at Elland Road fighting a three-front war: replacing the godhead Marcelo Bielsa (unwinnable), avoiding relegation (winnable) and getting the club's fans to believe he doesn't actually think like the previous paragraph.
No American has ever managed it before, but Marsch can at least take comfort from the fact that the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune have already been unleashed upon his predecessors. The English are just recycling shit now, and I'm asking them to stop.
To start with, there's no denying that Bob Bradley's Swansea reign was a total disaster, but the New Jersey native was allowed the last laugh when the Daily Mail tried to land one final kick after his dismissal by "revealing" the manager's nickname at the club: Ronald Reagan
"Trust me on this," Bradley responded. "Not one of those players knows who Ronald Reagan is."
Bradley's Swansea sessions were supposedly "old-fashioned," but you do start to wonder if these were actual truths from an important insider or simply the hackneyed biases of an onlooker when, over five years later, the exact same charge of being "old-fashioned" is leveled against Manchester United's American assistant Chris Armas after eight games.
That was along with the revelation of Armas having his own nickname on the training ground: Ted Lasso
Without thinking about the show's deeper meaning, the likeness suggests the idea of someone who's totally out of their depth — an American football coach from Kansas who says, Bielsa forbid, things like "PK," "road game," and "säkər!"
So it didn't take anyone long to draw a parallel between Marsch and the AFC Richmond boss.
When he was excelling at Salzburg he was the best parts of Lasso — he spoke at length with Grant Wahl about how "American arrogance" can actually serve as a positive belief system — but he arrives in West Yorkshire as the clown version after lasting only 21 matches in Leipzig earlier this season.
Within minutes of Jesse Marsch being appointed as Leeds United head coach the Ted Lasso comments were rolling in...Shaun Wright-Phillips doesn't think the fact Jesse Marsch is American will lead to any struggles between himself and the fans ⤵️#LUFC #bbcfootball
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) February 28, 2022
Maybe, as Graham Ruthven wrote for The Guardian back in 2020, Marsch will be the one to put all the jokes to bed, but I think the greatest form of respect would be to actually hear some more creative, outside-the-box putdowns for American managers when they arrive rather than just "oh, he's Ted Lasso."
You can do it, Jesse. We're all counting on you to get a higher win percentage than 18 percent.