It was cold, wet, miserable night, and a stagnated second half between Swansea and West Brom at the Liberty was doing little to warm the soul.

Resigned to the fact Wilfried Bony wasn’t going to rewind the clock four years and power home a late 20 yard leveller, my focus invariably wandered.

Elsewhere, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest were cooking up the kind of chastening reminder that as tough a league as the Championship is, few sides can actually defend. Except for Middlesbrough of course, who are managed by Tony Pulis. And maybe West Brom themselves, previously managed by, yeah, Tony Pulis.

Spurs were edging past Inter Milan, Lionel Messi was doing as Lionel Messi does, and Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury were staging boxing’s latest attempt to replicate WWE’s attitude era. Frank Warren though, is clearly no Vince McMahon.

But one man was dominating the global oracle that is Twitter more than anyone. Partly for his mercurial ability, mostly for his perceived theatrics.

So although Neymar’s first half goal in PSG’s win over Liverpool made him the most prolific Champions League goal scorer to ever emerge from Brazil, no mean feat given the illustrious company, the £198 million man was prompting more outrage than positive analysis.

And no, I still can’t comprehend the ‘£198 million man’ bit either.

He was seemingly safe from no one. Jamie Carragher was predictably scathing, Thomas Bjorn and Leonardo Di Caprio joined the public condemnation, and Graham Souness was no doubt spontaneously combusting in a manner usually reserved for an attempted rabona from Paul Pogba.

Feeling inclined to weigh in, I typed a tweet insinuating the criticism was deserved. I deleted before sending and wrote another instead, citing the intense divisions of opinion he incites. And I deleted again.

I didn’t try a third time. I just gave in to the realisation I didn’t actually care.

That sounds ignorant, but my tedium towards the subject didn’t stem from disagreement. Those lamenting his diving and rolling had right to do so. And while it may have been perceived as bitterness, Jurgen Klopp’s post-match comments were as accurate as they were angry.

But pinning play acting epidemics on Neymar is futile. Inevitably given his stature in the game he is often perceived as pivotal to the problem. In fact he’s merely part of it.

Diving, feigning injury, the wailing appeals, all are evils rife throughout football, from grassroots and jumpers for goalposts to the Champions League and televised replays. Some just know how to do it better.

But while the game is plagued by it, yet will never eradicate it, football has invited much of this on itself.

The notion where players can legitimately go down under ‘contact’, the increased pettiness imposed by authorities on officials, red cards dished out for what equates to considerably less than ‘dangerous play’ – it is small wonder players seek to capitalise.

With these thoughts brimming, my interest in the game at hand was suddenly reinvigorated. Not because of renewed hope of a result (West Brom were playing out the closing stages comfortably), but because I then followed referee James Linington with intrigue.  

As Swansea’s play became frenzied, four free kicks were awarded in quick succession. Three of which didn’t impede the man in possession, but there had simply been ‘contact’.

The last word is becoming ironic. I’m not advocating a return to the days of Chopper Harris cutting opponents in half with little more than a ‘steady on Ron’ as a reprimand, but it isn’t only modern day players who can be labelled soft. The rules they now adhere to often make a mockery of football’s status as a, yes, ‘contact’ sport.

The blame doesn’t always lie at the doors of referees - they don’t set the guidelines. But it should be possible for them to allow for moderate physicality, to show empathy towards a 50/50 collision, to keep cards in pockets occasionally, without recklessly endangering the well-being of those playing.

Retrospective bans for players found guilty of the ‘successful deception of a match official’ were introduced into English football by the FA last season. They’ve helped eradicate the more comical tumbles, but by in large a player who hits the deck is protected just so long as there is evidence of a brush on his shirt.

So despite their deserved win, no true fan can really endorse Neymar and co rolling around, no more than they can the same antics that go on week in, week out in all club and international football. PSG’s behaviour on Wednesday wasn’t isolated, it was little more than the norm. A reflection of a culture that is tainting the beautiful game at an intensifying rate.

But football can help itself. And a good place to start would be the relaxation of the ever increasing stringency that makes some players afraid to challenge strongly or make even slight contact, yes contact, with a player in possession.

For as long as it remains so easy to win free kicks and penalties, and prompt referees into dishing out cards, the temptation for simulation and deception will remain. Throw VAR into the mix, and the capacity for officials to go back and check that slight tug on the shirt that may have escaped them, and the pantomime will enhance further.

It’s not just Neymar who needs to change.