The Premier League's League of Nations

13th January 2016

The Premier League has developed a reputation for becoming something of a league of nations.
At the last count, there were players from more than 60 different nations plying their trade in Britain's top flight.
On the managerial front, things are equally diverse with 11 different nations represented by the men in the hot seat. 
Many are huge names in the world of football management. People like Dutchmen Guus Hiddink and Louis Van Gaal have amassed dozens of major European titles between them. 
And there is talk of even more "superstar" foreign managers on the way, with the likes of Pep Guardiola apparently eyeing a move to the Premier League.
The current crop of bosses hail from a wide variety of diverse and distant counties... from Argentina and Chile to Croatia and Germany. But something unusual struck me while I was watching the Swans play West Brom on Boxing Day.
While the likes of Man City's Manuel Pellegrini may come from far away Chile, and Slaven Bilic may hail from Croatia, the two managers on the touchline at the Liberty for the holiday clash, were born less than 30 miles apart and within 50 miles of the stadium.
Alan Curtis was born in Pentre in the Rhondda Valley, while Tony Pulis was born just a few dozen miles east in the Pillgwenlly area of Newport.
Granted, Curt isn't a long term appointment and may well soon be replaced by a big name manager from some far flung destination, but I think having a couple of relatively local boys in charge of the teams it is something that we should be justifiably proud of.
And while Curt is "only" a caretaker manager, he's currently doing a better job than some "big name" bosses plying their trade in the Premier League.
Please don't get me wrong, this article isn't a "British is Best" rant when it comes to managers.
I really don't mind who comes to manage in the Premier League, and as long as he is successful, I don't care how far away the next manager of the Swans was born or what language he speaks.
This is simply a celebration of Welsh talent making their mark in a league that is becoming increasing influenced by some of the best managerial and playing talent in the world. 
In the Premier League's first year, 1992, all of the managers were from Great Britain and Ireland. 
Now, the only permanent British managers are Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce, Steve McClaren, Alex Neil, Eddie Howe, Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes. 
Despite numerical dominance of foreign managers England still leads the way with four gaffers. But if you include Alan Curtis, Wales has the second highest number of managers with three, followed by France, Spain and Holland with two each.
Incredibly, there's only one Scot in charge at a Premier League club. Go back a few years and every other club seemed to be managed by a Glaswegian let alone a Jock.
So to have Wales riding up there near the top of the list of nations, even if you don't count Curt, is quite an achievement in my opinion.
And when you add the success of a Swansea-born boy on the international scene, the picture is even more promising.
When Chris Coleman was growing up in Mayhill, I wonder whether he dreamt of being the man who would take Wales back to the finals of a major tournament for the first time in 1958.
At this year's European Championship finals, the man who made his name with the Swans will be rubbing shoulders with an equally diverse range of managerial nationalities. Although, unlike the Premier League, the vast majority hail from the nation they are managing.
Again, this isn't a tub-thumping exercise for Welsh managers, but a recognition that if you're good enough, you can still make it on the highest stage.
Sam Allardyce, the manager of today's visitors Sunderland is an advocate of introducing what's known as the "Rooney Rule" to allow home-grown managers the chance to compete with foreign imports in British football. 
The Rooney Rule was adopted by the NFL in America to ensure at least one black or minority ethnic candidate is interviewed for every head coach vacancy.
Allardyce said: "As a country, as the FA, as the Premier League, we need to protect the position of our own highly-qualified coaches who are not even getting an interview now.
"What we could do is make sure that a British coach is interviewed for every position, a bit like the Rooney Rule."
Personally, I'm not sure how much difference that would make, if a club wants a certain coach, that's who they will employ, whoever is placed onto the shortlist.
These things usually go around in cycles and I'm sure the British manager will come back into fashion naturally if the likes of "local boys" Coleman, Curtis and Pulis continue to show what they can do at the highest level.
C'mon you Swans!