YOU don’t have to stray too far from the tourist-friendly streets of Barcelona’s bustling inner-city hub to run into a language barrier.

Try ordering a sandwich in a cafe in the streets of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat – a thumping Carles Puyol clearance away from the Nou Camp – and you soon realise that simply speaking English isn’t going to get it done.

Instead it took a lot of pointing, smiling, a few Italian words, and a couple of half-hearted stabs at Spanish and Catalan before lunch was finally ordered. The end result was a feeling of sheepish ignorance and a determination to pay more attention during future episodes of Dora the Explorer.

It was, therefore, not difficult to feel pangs of empathy with Angelo Alessio the other day as he tried desperately to get his views across in his pre-match media conference. You could almost feel the frustration spreading across the Kilmarnock manager’s face as he racked his brains looking for the English equivalent of the words that had formed in his head in his native Italian.

His assistant Massimo Donati sat next to him offering snippets of translations, sotto voce, but Alessio, for the most part, tried to plough through diligently by himself. That was to his undoubted credit.

Whether Alessio succeeds or not at Rugby Park will come down to a lot more than simply his command of the English language. He will already be learning, however, that British ignorance and arrogance on this issue will unfortunately count against him just as it did with many others before him.

He is not the first foreign player or manager to arrive in Scotland to realise that there is an in-built intolerance of those who don’t speak fluent English that borders on casual racism. There is a widespread assumption that anyone turning up in this country will or should be able to speak the language, despite the majority of Brits travelling the globe with next to no intention of making any effort to learn or at least attempt the local tongue.

After years of being spoiled by Scandinavian, Dutch and German players and managers arriving in this country with a fluency in English that often put many of the locals to shame, we simply have no patience for those from other countries who aren’t able to do similar. It immediately becomes labelled as a flaw. “Poor English,” as if years of experiences gained on the training field can similarly be ignored because they were undertaken in a different language.

It speaks to a closed mentality. A reluctance to embrace cultures or methods that are different to our own. The Kilmarnock players are already speaking about “training being different” under Alessio and you start to wonder how willing they have been to cut him some slack. If a new manager wants to do something different and is struggling to get his point across in a second language, the easy thing would be just to decide it isn’t worth listening to.

It already has shades of Pedro Caixinha and Paul Le Guen’s tenures at Rangers. Caixinha’s limited pedigree prior to arriving at Ibrox meant he shouldn’t have been given the job in the first place. But when things started to go inevitably awry, it was the Portuguese’s flowery way of expressing himself in a foreign tongue that became the stick to beat him with almost more than the results. A Brit wouldn’t have come in for the same treatment.

Le Guen, on the other hand, did have an impressive track record both as a player with PSG and as a manager at Lyon before pitching up in Glasgow. Again, though, he met with immediate resistance from a squad of players who had been more accustomed to the familiar style of Alex McLeish and did not seem of a mind to embrace something different.

Le Guen’s mistake, in hindsight, was surrounding himself with an all-French backroom team leading to heightened division but someone of his character and profile should not have failed in Scottish football.

Although a lot of that will be pinned on his own inflexibility, he was clearly not helped by a reluctance inside the dressing room to remain open-minded about his proposed way forward. Foreign managers need to adopt to the local culture, of course, but the trend seems to suggest there is rarely any compromise the other way.

The hypocrisy, of course, is that many British managers succeeding abroad have done so with little grasp of the language or culture of their new surrounds. Sir Bobby Robson flourished in the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain with little more than a smattering of each language, famously deploying Jose Mourinho as his translator.

Robson wasn’t demeaned or mocked by the locals as a result – instead he was respected for his football knowledge rather than abused for his limited language skills.

Alessio won’t be afforded that same privilege as he prepares for his first SPFL match against Rangers this afternoon. His background is impressive – working as an assistant at Juventus, Italy and Chelsea among others – although he has limited experience as a frontline manager.

He may simply not be cut out for that role. What he doesn’t deserve, however, is to be judged prematurely in a nation that simply has no appreciation of the difficulty of working in another language as we’ve never bothered to try ourselves.