Pep Guardiola has defended Sergio Agüero’s touching of Sian Massey-Ellis by stating the action has been misconstrued in a similar way to how Bernardo Silva’s “joke” tweet to Benjamin Mendy was.
During City’s 1-0 win over Arsenal last Saturday Agüero placed a hand on the assistant referee’s shoulder after disputing a throw-in Massey-Ellis awarded.
Despite criticism on social media and from pundits including Ian Wright and Alan Shearer on Match of the Day, Agüero did not apologise. Guardiola dismissed the episode after the game.
The manager was asked on Friday whether on reflection Agüero should have said sorry. “I know perfectly [about this] – it’s like Bernardo and what he had with Mendy,” he said. “They are brothers and he was suspended. All the people looking from outside judge.
“I know the intention from Sergio. Sergio put his hands in a normal way like he does many times to me, on or off the pitch or when I hug him, when there is a substitution or when sometimes he touches the referee as well or an opponent.
“If I’d seen some aggression, maybe [he should have said sorry]. I think it was normal as I know him perfectly. He’s been a huge star in the world but he’s humble, one of the nicest people I’ve met. What is important is his intention and his intention was normal, to talk to her in a normal way; it was not a bad word, it was just normal. I didn’t speak to Sergio about this but I’m pretty sure if [he thought] she felt bad he would apologise without a problem. It is the same as what happened with Bernardo, I know him perfectly well and it was a joke and this was a normal [not wrong] situation.”
Last September Silva apologised for any unintentional hurt caused after he posted a picture of a cartoon character used to promote a Spanish chocolate brand alongside one of Mendy as a child with the caption “Guess who?” and two smileys. Silva deleted the tweet but was found guilty by the Football Association of an “aggravated breach” of its rules on social media behaviour because it appeared to reference the left-back’s race. He was fined £50,000, banned for one match and ordered to undergo education.
Guardiola’s contract expires next summer and he stated there were currently no discussions about an extension. He denied it may affect players’ mentality if they knew he was staying. “Absolutely not – they want to play good every single minute, they are professional,,” he said.