Ted Lasso's revenge! Man Utd laughing stock Armas out to show his coaching mettle in Leeds caretaker role after Marsch's exit
Well, it's safe to say that no one saw this coming.
Just one year after reportedly being ridiculed at Manchester United for both his methods and his nationality, United States-born Chris Armas will now take charge of Leeds United for a match against the Red Devils at Old Trafford. It is a stunning turn of events, really, for a coach unemployed just a few weeks ago.
How did we get here? Why did Armas find his way into this situation? And, perhaps most importantly, can the American coach now get a little bit of revenge and closure at the expense of his former club, where he was reportedly mocked by his own players? He might need a dose of Ted Lasso magic.
Armas, who had been without a job since departing Manchester United last May, was hired to join Jesse Marsch's staff in January. For many, it was a sign that Leeds were, in fact, committed to Marsch as the club had hired his former understudy after backing him in a big way in the January transfer window.
As it turns out, Leeds were not committed. Marsch was sacked on Monday, ending his time in charge at Leeds less than one year after his arrival. His tenure concludes with the club sitting 17th in the Premier League, level with 18th-place Everton with one game in hand.
That game in hand comes on Wednesday at Old Trafford, and it comes with Armas leading the charge alongside Michael Skubala and Paco Gallardo in a coaching triumvirate that will remain in place until a new manager is appointed.
Amas had only just joined Marsch, his former USMNT and Chicago Fire team-mate and longtime coaching partner. It was Marsch that helped elevate Armas to his first head coaching job, which came after the then-assistant stepped up to replace the ex-Leeds boss when he first went abroad to join RB Leipzig. The two have a long-standing friendship and a long-standing professional partnership, and their most recent reunion was cut short just weeks in.
However, Armas can take some comfort in the fact that he now has an opportunity to help Leeds steady the ship and, perhaps more importantly, take some points off his former employer as they face off in consecutive matches.
Armas' time at Manchester United wasn't good, to say the least. He was brought in by Ralf Rangnick, the figurehead of the Red Bull Way that both Armas and Marsch have long been subscribed to. It was a big opportunity for Armas, who had struggled as a head coach with the Red Bulls and Toronto FC before being given an assistant role at arguably the world's most famous club.
But, as Rangnick's tenure went on, it became apparent that the fit was all wrong. At the end, Man Utd finished in sixth place with 58 points, their worst total since the founding of the Premier League. A planned consultancy gig was shelved as all involved acknowledged that the partnership simply didn't work out.
Rangnick earned plenty of criticism during his time at Man Utd. His system, one which had been so effective in Germany, didn't work with Manchester United. He criticised the quad several times in the media and, ultimately, didn't win enough to stay on.
But Rangnick also earned criticism for his decision to hire Armas, who reportedly wasn't a popular figure.
According to ESPN, Man Utd players were frustrated by training methods under Rangnick, who by and large handed practice sessions over to Armas. Reports said that Armas' methods were too "old-fashioned", adding that the players jokingly compared Armas to fictional American coach Ted Lasso, a sometimes unflattering caricature of the clueless American.
Armas, for his part, denied the negative depiction in an interview with Sky Sports in August.
"People who know me know what I care about and how much I value the team," he said. "What happens on the inside, as we say.
"When things are trying to penetrate and negativity is coming from the outside - to be honest, a lot of it was untrue. Who's to say what's true and not, but I can tell you a lot of it was untrue, and that it does create negativity. For those players, and myself included, you can't listen to the noise.
"We were trying to become a team, it's always a process but at Manchester United, at the time we arrived, all of us were trying to come together...Did we really move the needle, in the end? We wanted to finish in the top four and play a small part in that, it's disappointing in the end but overall it was an incredible experience for me."
His Leeds experience, at least so far, has been far from incredible, and he'll now face a big challenge before he is, inevitably, replaced. There are no guarantees going forward for Armas, who very well could be unemployed again by this time next week.
But, before all of that, he does have one chance to make a statement, to make an impact on Leeds' season by helping steer them away from relegation. He also has a chance to improbably complicate Manchester United's own ambitions as they push to return to the Premier League's elite.
It's an opportunity no one saw coming, but now one that Armas could take against all odds.