Ted Lasso supporters are an extremely ardent lot, so before we get into Ted Lasso’s win–loss record I need to offer a preface: The Gist loves Ted Lasso. I promise! In fact, it was our favorite show of 2020. On a personal level, the show has forced me to deal with my mental health in ways that I really don’t want to even though I know it’s good for me.
With that said, I’m afraid I need to point out a few unpleasant truths about Ted Lasso’s wins and losses, as well as what the writers’ use of The Empire Strikes Back as a template for season 2 might suggest for the man’s future. Just know that, as I do so, my own template is Nate roasting the team in the locker room, and not Nate literally every single time he talks to Will. Sweet, thoughtful Will, with his lavender towels and his pineapple water — Nate, how can you possibly be so cruel to him, there hasn’t been a bully more deserving of a punch to the face since the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance, shame on you Nate, where is Roy Kent when we need him most?
Getting back to the Premier League means turning things around fast
Generally speaking, teams relegated to the Championship League don’t have too difficult a time gaining promotion back to the Premier League within a season or two. Norwich City, first-place finishers in last year’s Championship (go Canaries), are now back in the EPL after just one season of relegation. AFC Richmond, which had Premier League resources for years, should be in a similar spot — a bit like the big kid having a proper fuck-about on the little kid playground for old times’ sake.
But that hasn’t been the case. Since starting the season with a now-infamous eight-match draw streak, Richmond has sputtered. Thanks to a shot of the white board in Ted and Beard’s office during the Christmas episode, we know that the team is 4-4-14 (Wins-Losses-Draws) as of Christmas Day. League standings work the same way the group stage in any major tournament works: teams get zero points for a loss, one point for a tie, and three points for a win. Richmond therefore has 26 points in the Championship standings at the season’s halfway point.
That number should be setting off alarm bells. Last season, 26 points on Christmas would have placed Richmond 17th of 24, shockingly close to a second relegation and well behind pace for a chance at promotion. At the end of the Championship season, the three teams with the fewest points are automatically relegated to League One, the next-lowest professional football league. The top three teams get promoted to the Premier League, but the #3 spot comes with a catch. The first two spots go to the two teams with the most points. The third- through sixth-place teams, though, play each other in a mini-tournament; the tournament winner gets the third and final promotion.
In the entire 18-year history of the EFL Championship, only one team has ever made it into that tournament with fewer than 70 total points over a full season. (Leicester City did it with 68 in 2012-13.) Realistically, then, Richmond needs somewhere in the neighborhood of 42 points over the back half of their season just to qualify for the right to play for a promotion, never mind getting promoted outright.
(In case you’re curious: the record for fewest number of points for a straight-up promotion is a tie, because of course it is. Stoke City earned the second qualifying spot in 2007-08 with 79 points, and Hull City matched them five seasons later.)
If Richmond continues at its current pace, they’ll earn about 28 points in the new year, 54 points for the season… and a whole bunch of unpleasant questions about their future.
If he’s to start winning, Ted’s approach has to change
Let me pause here and assure you I’m aware we’re not talking about a huge jump. The difference between 28 points and 42 is five games (at best). The tie streak is long gone. And we’re talking about a TV show. A sports TV show. Winning streaks to a sports show are like a catnip pillow to a sleepy jaguar. There is no way we won’t see Ted Lasso embrace one with both arms and both legs at some point.
But we’re rapidly approaching the point where that *needs* to happen. There are 46 games in a Championship season. We know that as of S2E4, Richmond has played 22 games (4+4+14), so the team has 24 remaining. The quickest way to the bare minimum (ish) of 42 back-half points, and the playoff, is 14 wins. Getting the points that way requires Richmond to win 58.3% of its remaining games.
This would be rather an improvement over their current winning percentage of 18.1.
There are other combinations that get Richmond to the same number of points. The fewest wins they could have and still get in is 9. But, in that scenario, they would also have to play to an agonizing 15 more ties. This seems extremely unlikely, given how the team started the season, but the show has also been pretty averse to showing us what wins look like.
And it’s very much worth repeating that AFC Richmond is waaay overdue for a winning streak. We’ve seen Dani do some amazing things, but he hasn’t caught fire yet. Now that Jamie is back, Ted finally has his two aces — *and* they’re getting along, everybody is getting along, because Jamie stepped up and acted selflessly and earned the team’s respect. Sam, full of confidence and vision, has blossomed in every way. Jan’s Dutch bluntness ought to make him a great shit-talker in the Tim Duncan mold. Isaac is Isaac (when he’s not Santa). The team is gelled like a North Dakota salad. The Greyhounds should be running over everyone. Dani and Jamie should be locked in a Maris-and-Mantle-esque duel for Championship top scorer. Nothing in the Ted Lasso universe — other than the Christmas episode #NerfCut — would be better than watching AFC Richmond straight-up destroying other teams and livelihoods. This would be the very bombest of diggities.
But so then right here is where I must point out a discouraging and supremely relevant fact. Despite Coach Beard’s incredible “winning matters” speech to Ted in “All Apologies,” despite the talent on AFC Richmond’s roster, and despite Ted showing a willingness to make unpopular moves — like bringing back his second ace — for the good of the team, Theodore Lasso is not yet a good soccer coach. And I say that because he simply does not have a good win-loss record. At all, actually.
After the white board reveal, I got curious about Richmond’s complete win-loss record since Ted took over. So, during a recent rewatch, I kept track of every mention of any AFC Richmond result in season 1. What I found were two wins (on the road against Everton and a 3-2 victory over WTF in “Tan Lines”), one tie (which a reporter mentions to Ted before the team gets on the bus for the Everton game), and a further seven losses.
The show is under no obligation to let us know the outcome of every single one of Richmond’s games, so it’s theoretically possible that the team got another win or two in there somewhere and didn’t feel the need to brag about it. Since we have no way of knowing, we have to conclude that Richmond goes 2-7-1 during Ted’s season 1 tenure. And with the white board making things Crystal Palace-clear for season 2, Ted Lasso’s win loss record is, as of this writing, 6 wins, 11 losses, and 15 draws.
Six victories in 32 matches give Ted a winning percentage of just 18.75. Even by the standards of a sport in which draws are possible, this is, to be as gentle as possible, real real bad. Managers in the Premier League as well as the Championship are regularly sacked or encouraged to step down for posting records far better than Ted’s. Blackburn Rovers’s current manager Tony Mowbray quit as the coach of Coventry City in 2016 after winning only 26 games out of 76 total (34.2%). Also in 2016, Mark Robins, Coventry City’s current manager, got the boot as head of the delightfully named Scunthorpe United after posting 23 wins in 71 games (32.4%). Marco Silva won 24 of 60 while managing Richmond’s bitter rivals Everton, but winning at a 40% clip wasn’t good enough for Silva to keep his job past 2019.
There are loads more examples. But there are also goldfish to emulate. So instead of dwelling on the real-life losses, I’ll point out just one more sobering fact. Of the 44 current managers in the Premier League and Championship, only one person — Nigel Pearson of Bristol City — has a record comparable to Ted’s. And Pearson, who is 3-5-10 (16.7%), took over in February; he hasn’t even coached a calendar year yet, much less a full season.
Ted Lasso has yet to give us the Darth Vader moment
The painful conclusion we must nonetheless draw is that while Richmond needs a fuckton of wins to have even a chance of promotion back to the Premier League, Ted Lasso needs a fuckton of wins to justify his position as the head of a professional football club in a country that demands a fuckton from its club managers. I love love love this show and want it to keep helping so very many people believe.
And I’m further willing to accept it straining credulity in the name of the goodwill that Ted has earned during his time at the helm. Rebecca certainly understands how valuable he is to the team, and Rebecca would almost certainly resist any and all calls to fire Ted well beyond what a real team, with its sponsors and myriad interests, would endure.
But one thing that it might be too hard to accept is that there won’t be real-life, professional consequences for Ted, should Richmond not get its shit together in a big hurry. What Beard told Ted is now ingrained in the show’s DNA: when teams lose, players get sent away to other teams and coaches get replaced. We ducked some of that between seasons 1 and 2; chalk it up to Rebecca’s newfound goodwill, the love for the family she made along the way. Why, should they linger in the bottom half of the Championship standings (or, dare I say it, find themselves relegated again), would Richmond not suffer some breakup between seasons 2 and 3?
It seems possible that that’s where we’re heading. Luke Skywalker faced Darth Vader way before he was ready because Vader was able to trick Luke by using his friends as bait. This happened despite Yoda’s pleas and warnings. Ted is obviously Luke Skywalker; Dr. Fieldstone is absolutely Ted Lasso‘s Yoda. Given the doctor’s profession, it sure seems like the show’s Vader comes from within. And while Ted and Sharon have technically met, they haven’t yet begun any of Ted’s Jedi training.
There’s a ton of story left to tell this season. Given Richmond’s inexplicable on-field sputtering and Ted spinning into a panic at the merest whiff of therapy, things are about to take a sharp turn away from Christmas. However this year’s remaining episodes shake out, it doesn’t feel like a remote possibility that next year the focus will be on Ted figuring out what to do with himself now that he’s no longer a coach. Which could be an amazing story! I just hope he doesn’t also have to do it one-handed.
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