Pep backs Aguero after ref incident: ‘I know the intention from Sergio’

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has reiterated his defence of Sergio Aguero while the striker continues to receive widespread condemnation for putting his hands on female official Sian Massey-Ellis.

Cameras caught Aguero placing his hands on assistant referee Massey-Ellis’ shoulder during City’s 1-0 win over Arsenal.

The 32-year-old escaped punishment from the FA but Aguero has continued to receive criticism from pundits and former players for his actions.

“All the people looking from outside judge. I know the intention from Sergio,” Guardiola told a news conference on Friday ahead of the trip to West Ham.

“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.2

“If I’d seen some aggression, maybe. 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 she felt bad he will apologise without a problem.”

Aguero is set to be part of City’s squad at the London Stadium on Saturday after getting his first goal of the season in the 3-1 win over Porto on Wednesday.

Guardiola — who has denied reports he started talks over a new contract at the Etihad Stadium — could have Kevin De Bruyne, Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake available again after injury, although the City manager revealed only “some” of his missing players will be able to return.

Meanwhile, Guardiola has brushed off comments made by Porto manager Sergio Conceicao that his behaviour on the touchline is “extremely unpleasant.”

Conceicao suggested Guardiola and his staff put pressure on the officials during the Champions League clash, something the Spaniard has rejected.

“He believes we are, maybe he’s right — I don’t think so,” said Guardiola “We are pleasant from minute one to 90 but if he believes that maybe he’s right.”