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Leeds boss Gracia desperate to relive 2019 FA Cup run

Javi Gracia has no intention of sacrificing the FA Cup in his bid to keep Leeds in the Premier League, saying he wants to “live again” the experience of reaching the final at Wembley.

The new Leeds boss, who made a winning start in his first game in charge against Southampton on Saturday, guided his former club Watford to the FA Cup final in 2019.

That run to Wembley was the highlight of Gracia’s 20-month tenure at Vicarage Road, despite a 6-0 hammering by Manchester City in the final, and the Spaniard “would like to live it again”.

Gracia, whose side play at Premier League high-fliers Fulham in the fifth round on Tuesday, said his memories of Watford’s cup run were “unforgettable”.

“What I could see in that competition, the way our supporters enjoyed it, it’s something I will never forget,” he said.

“It’s something I’ve tried to explain to my players. I have only one experience, but that experience was something amazing for me and I would like to live it again.”

Leeds will bid to reach the last eight for the first time in 20 years at Craven Cottage after their 1-0 home win over Southampton lifted them out of the Premier League relegation zone.

Leeds halted a 10-game winless league run thanks to Junior Firpo’s second-half goal against Southampton and Gracia said the mood in the camp was good.

“I have enjoyed training with the players after a great result for us,” he said. “We are preparing as best we can for tomorrow. We are very excited.”

Gracia will go head-to-head with Fulham boss Marco Silva, whom he replaced as Watford head coach in January 2018.

The 52-year-old added: “It will be a tough game, but we will try. All the references about him (Silva) are good. I know he is a very good manager.”

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