Guardiola defends Bernardo over controversial tweet

Pep Guardiola has defended Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva following a since-deleted tweet about Benjamin Mendy.

Bernardo Silva posted a photo of Benjamin Mendy as a child alongside a dated image from Spanish confectionary 'Conguitos'.   -  Getty Images

Pep Guardiola defended Bernardo Silva after a tweet about Manchester City team-mate Benjamin Mendy included what was described as a "racist stereotype" by Kick It Out.

The organisation criticised Silva after he posted a photo of Mendy as a child alongside a dated image from Spanish confectionary 'Conguitos' that has been criticised for its racist connotations, with the caption: "Guess who?".

France international Mendy appeared to take the post in good humour, replying with laughing emojis and a message saying: "1-0 for you will see".

Silva, who had scored a hat-trick in an 8-0 Premier League defeat of Watford last week, deleted the message then posted: "Can't even joke with a friend these days…You guys…".

However, social media users noted the racist implications of the image and the Football Association (FA) has contacted City to ask the club for its observations over the tweet.

Read: Martinelli opens account as Gunners cruise into fourth round

Guardiola feels there was no malice intended from Silva, noting the Portugal international's close relationship with left-back Mendy.

"Honestly, I don't know what will happen," Guardiola told reporters after Tuesday's 3-0 EFL Cup win at Preston North End. "They [the FA] should put their focus on another issue because they don't know which guy you are talking about.

"Bernardo is one of most lovely people I ever met in my life. He speaks four or five languages and that is the best way to understand how open-minded he is and one of his best friends is Mendy. He’s like a brother for him. 

"The image is not about the colour of the skin. He took a picture of Benjamin when he was young and he related it to this cartoon, which was quite similar for the image.

"If they want to do that [investigate] and ask for Bernardo, I think he will be open to talk. But first you have to know exactly which person you are talking about.

"There are many situations with people, with white people, and you look at a cartoon and the face is quite similar as your face and you put it in there, it is quite similar.

"I think the response from Mendy was clear after that. They are joking all the time. Maybe what I say as advice is to hide social media… if something happened it would be a mistake.

"Bernardo is an exceptional person. A guy who can speak five languages, it's because he's open-minded – nothing about the colour of the skin, nationalities or whatever."

-Eric Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Belis exceptional-

Guardiola described Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis as exceptional human beings after they helped Manchester City reach the EFL Cup fourth round.

Teenagers Garcia and Harwood-Bellis contributed to City's clean sheet in a 3-0 win at Championship club Preston North End on Tuesday, with Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and a Ryan Ledson own goal sealing a comfortable victory.

City's defensive injury crisis, with Aymeric Laporte and John Stones sidelined, has left Nicolas Otamendi as its only senior centre-back after the departure of club captain Vincent Kompany.

Yet Garcia and senior debutant Harwood-Bellis impressed enough against Alex Neil's side to suggest they can be options for City as it seeks to defend all three of its domestic trophies.

Read: Zidane bemoans fixture congestion as Mendy joins Real Madrid's injured absentees

"We made a good solid performance against a team third in the Championship, we played really good," Guardiola said to Sky Sports.

"I am pleased a lot with Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis at the back, they helped us a lot.

"They combined, they suit each other perfectly and they have played in the academy every weekend.

"They are exceptional human beings with a good mentality. I am very pleased."

Preston held firm for 19 minutes, with City having put five past Watford in the Premier League by the same stage at the weekend.

"We didn't disappoint," said North End boss Neil. "For the first 20 minutes we started brightly on the front foot. We went chasing the ball for the first goal. They are good-quality goals for them.

"The goals they scored were stuff we talked about. But when you play against that quality with their speed, it's one thing to talk about stopping them. It’s another thing to do it. We can't get too hard on ourselves.

"Man City were the better team. Their forward line is scary for any Premier League team. We need to take the positives of what we did well and take them onto Saturday."

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