Forget Mikel Arteta, Pep Guardiola or Jürgen Klopp, everyone’s favourite “soccer” manager is back. That homespun hero Ted Lasso, winningly played by Jason Sudeikis, returns for another season – following on from A.F.C. Richmond’s return to the Premier League at the end of season two. That’s not the only change, with Ted’s former assistant, “the wonder kid” Nate Shelley (Nick Mohammed) now in charge of rival outfit West Ham United, the shiny new toy of former Richmond owner Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head). With Mannion the philandering ex-husband to Richmond’s glamorous head Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), season three is neatly set up for some tense rivalries on and off the pitch.
Amusingly, Ted’s team steals a march on the Hammers when Zava (Maximilian Osinski), an egotistical but brilliant footballer decides to leave Juventus. Notorious for causing chaos wherever he plays, Zava is the subject of widespread interest from Premier League clubs and spends his time in England flirting with both Chelsea and West Ham, until deciding to join Richmond. He’s rather like iconic Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimović (they even look similar), although he soon becomes a firm favourite among the players – coming out with gnomic statements like “Your passion is why I play”, said to ballboy Will.
Jason Sudeikis returns as the titular American football coach in ‘Ted Lasso’ season three. CREDIT: Apple
Less popular in the dressing room is James Lance’s returning reporter Trent Crimm, who now has a book deal to write about Richmond’s season as they return to the Premier League. His introduction is lovely, as he struts around the club while The Kinks’ ‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’ plays on the soundtrack. The grouchy Roy Keane-like former midfielder turned assistant coach Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) is particularly sour towards this hack, due to a long-held beef. At least Roy finds time to take the team’s gifted striker Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) – a man he used to loathe – under his wing.
Really, though, it’s the sweet-natured and soapy behind-the-scenes relationships that drive Ted Lasso, and this campaign has plenty to offer. Like Roy’s faltering relationship with ex-WAG Keeley Jones (Juno Temple), the club’s high-flying PR. Ted’s got his own romantic problems, after he discovers that his ex-wife Michelle (Andrea Anders) has moved on. Thankfully, Ted’s still so gosh-darn sweet, he takes it all in his stride. And, yes, his rhymes are as awful/endearing as ever (“beg to differ, Claudia Schiffer” – not spoken directly to the supermodel, we should add – is a particularly choice one).
While Apple TV+ has only so far released the first four episodes of season three to review, it’s a promising start. True, the football sequences still don’t look that hot, but that’s not really why you watch Ted Lasso, is it? The writing is a sharp as ever, from Ted taking the team into the sewer for a motivational speech to describing himself as “like Ned Flanders is doing cosplay as Ned Flanders”. The addition of Zava brings real zing to the show, and the newly-formed rivalry with the Hammers, as Shelley and Mannion try and supplant Richmond, is Premier League funny. Welcome back Ted – we’ve missed you.
‘Ted Lasso’ season three premieres on Apple TV+ tomorrow (March 15)
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