ONE thing that really grates on me about modern football is that players are seemingly untouchable on the pitch.

The art of tackling is just as important as the knack of finding the net or keepers making a great save and yet we are becoming more and more like basketball – a non-contact sport.

The best indication this week was Danny Welbeck’s penalty claim for Arsenal against AC Milan, which was given by a fifth official stood just yards away despite it being one of the softest challenges you could ever see by Milan’s Ricardo Rodriguez.

Pundits slated Welbeck while Arsene Wenger probably didn’t see it.

But there were some who argued once Rodriguez had put his right arm on Welbeck’s shoulder then he was entitled to go to ground.

What a joke argument that is. So many time you hear ex-professionals excuse a soft penalty with the phrase: “Well, there was contact.” I’m sorry but isn’t that what the game is about?

As long as we are not seeing over-zealous and rash challenges out to injure people, surely these modern-day pampered pros can take a bit of contact.

Imagine how hard men from the past like Ron Harris, Nobby Stiles and Co would have fared in today’s sanitised football.

Not every contact is a foul, just like not every foul is a booking despite today’s fans appealing for a yellow card with every challenge.

Yes we need to protect players but is it really right that refereeing chiefs are personally meeting Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola because of some late challenges on his star men?

Should one team have the ear of the officials’ governing body? I don’t think so.

It is time for players to concentrate on the game and deal with the physical side of things that come with it.

Don’t get me wrong, there are those who do just that. Lionel Messi probably gets the harshest treatment of them all from opposition players but rarely rolls about looking for punishment. Mind you not many can get near to him to foul the mesmeric Argentine.

But even when players try to stay on their feet they get lambasted by pundits who say: “He should have made more of that.”

Let’s just get back to proper honesty on the pitch and playing the right way like we used to as kids.

If the foul is bad enough then you will go down naturally, if not just play on.

There’s an old adage that cheats don’t prosper – in modern football they certainly do.