Javi Gracia says having to pick between leading Watford to their first FA Cup final in 35 years, or locking down seventh in the Premier League, is like choosing a favourite parent.
The Spaniard, who made 11 changes for Watford’s third-round win against Woking earlier this month, will again rotate his side for their trip to Newcastle on Saturday.
Gracia insists he recognises the importance of the FA Cup, but will express caution ahead of Watford’s visit to Wembley Stadium to face Tottenham in the league four days later.
Watford have featured in the Wembley showpiece just once in their history, losing to Everton in 1984, but Gracia – who has guided the Hornets to an impressive seventh in his first full season at Vicarage Road – said: “Who do you prefer? Do you prefer mummy or do you prefer daddy? It is the same.
“If you ask Watford supporters whether they want to reach the final or finish seventh, they will say they want to be first in the league, and to win the FA Cup, not seventh. That is our ambition, and that is our target.”
Quique Sanchez Flores, one in a long line of Watford managers in recent seasons, took the club to the last four of the FA Cup three years ago, but was subsequently axed by the ruthless Pozzo family.
Yet, Gracia does not believe his decision to ring the changes at Newcastle means he is showing disrespect to the competition.
He added: “I don’t like it when you change the side, or give the chance to other players, and your decision means you are showing the FA Cup is not important to you.
“No, I know the FA Cup is important and I want to go forward in this competition and to carry on.
“But, we need to give the chance to other players and we need to show all the work that they are doing.
“What I can feel in the squad when we are preparing for the next game is that a lot of them are very motivated.”