Peter Beagrie
Football League Expert & Columnist

Championship: Peter Beagrie previews Yeovil-Watford on New Year's Day

Gary Johnson: the Yeovil boss desperate for better fortune in 2014

The first day of 2014 has a vital clash being shown on Sky Sports between struggling Yeovil and Watford, also looking to improve under a new boss.

Yeovil's opening day win will have proved to be a false dawn to everybody by Gary Johnson. The likable football realist is having to beg, steal and borrow, literally, to make sure fans of little old Yeovil Town are still living the dream.

Undoubtedly it's going to take a monumental effort greater than League One promotion to retain their status and would definitely be Johnson's greatest career achievement to date.

Losses to Doncaster and only solitary points gained against Charlton and Barnsley would have been a worry for Town, and a humbling 3-0 defeat against newly promoted Bournemouth visibly hurt Johnson's troops and I genuinely worried for their visit to Huddersfield. My fears were justified, as without centre half pairing Duffy and Webster, Yeovil's woes continued.

Huddersfield, even without prolific James Vaughan, cruised to a convincing 5-1 win. A miserable day was compounded with keeper Marek Stech going off at half-time and top scorer Ed Upson picking up ankle injury which may keep him out for a few weeks.

22 players have been brought in, many on loan, and Johnson has also stayed loyal to the core of his squad that got them promotion. But now is the time to make changes, whether in personnel or the system. Gary is wise enough to know the dynamics must change - and quickly - attitudes changed and renewed hope somehow instilled before Yeovil's four-point gap from safety increases.

Huish Park must find its voice once again and I feel their home form will dictate their destiny so the green army must rally and inspire their troops in their battle for survival.

Changing Hornets

It was with a heavy heart that all of the Watford players and fans alike said "arrivederci" to legend Gianfranco Zola. I really felt for the footballing genius, icon and true gentleman.

It's impossible to work out fully why after showing no signs of a play-off headache, suffering only two losses in the opening 11 games.

Troy Deeney effective but less prolific mainly due to the departed Matej Vydra and an early season injury to Almen Abdi, Zola was perplexed with the terrible winless run which was to follow - particularly the five successive home defeats that forced the man to fall on his sword - such is the man's lack of ego and doing what was right for Watford Football Club.

They failed to score in two of their first 13 games but have failed to find the net in six of the last 10 - that's one problem. They've conceded three goals four times in the last 12 games, winning only once - that's another.

New manager Giuseppe Sannino has a very talented squad to choose from but he must find the balance. Abdi's return would be a massive fillip for Watford as he's the one player that links defence and attack and has the best relationship with Deeney. Fernando Forestieri has also started to play and is benefiting from a longer run in the side.

The main problem has been an ever-changing back five from the start of the season but crumbs of comfort for the Watford fans are their fluid style has shown signs of late of returning and they only find themselves five points off the last play-off place, such is the competitive nature and closeness of the Championship.

Will Sannino be the man to put the smiles back on Watford faces? We'll just have to wait and see but this match is a very, very important game for both managers in the dug-outs on Wednesday.