ModernFitba.com Is 1 Year Old!!

Written by: Jamie Kilday

Today marks twelve months since a throw away idea in a WhatsApp chat became ModernFitba.com!  By an absolute coincidence this is another milestone as it’s the 100th article we’ve posted on the site!!

So, there’s no better excuse to take a look back as some of the articles we’ve posted in that time and the writers behind them.

A week before the Scottish Cup final may have seemed like a strange time to launch a football site but as the season drew to a close, we knew it gave us the perfect opportunity to take a long look at the 2017/18 season, aided initially by data from Stratabet and InStat and more recently supported by our Data Partner ORTEC Sports.

ModernFitba isn’t only about data, and we didn’t ignore the cup final. Alex Lawrence’s tactical of preview, for me, is still one of the best tactical articles written about Scottish football.

If anything, it is only bettered by Alex’s second article for the site, which was a look back over Aberdeen’s 2017/18 season.

At the time, Alex pointed out that Aberdeen could be improved by incorporating some of Steve Clarke’s ideas that he has implemented at Kilmarnock. As we go into the final game of the season Kilmarnock only need to equal Aberdeen’s result to take the final European place (14 points separated the sides this time last season).

Similarly, un-afraid to put the boot in, Jordan Campbell is another tactical writer who is no stranger to highlighting where sides in Scotland can improve. His break down of Rangers midfield highlighted that Glen Kamara would be the perfect final piece which has since been proven to be true as he has proven to be a canny signing for the bears. Its yet to be seen if Bayo can have the same impact at Celtic but Jordan’s profiling of the Ivorian striker certainly indicates that he could do.

Easily our most prolific writer, Jason, had been using data to analyse Scottish football for years as The Gers Report. Don’t be fooled by his moniker as he is more than just a Rangers blogger.

Taking inspiration from Hockey analytics he has introduced so many different ways of manipulating data that we had to add a Glossary to the site to keep up. Whether he’s looking at Goals above Average, Goals above Replacement, Expected Shooting Percentages, Projected Points or Defensive Third Exits to name a few, it was no surprise when Jason was picked up by a club south of the border.

Another writer picked up by a club during the season was Dougie Wright whose fantastic work didn’t go un-noticed by the staff at Livingston. His article previewing Rangers 2018/19 season is for good reason one of the most popular articles on the site and is still worth a read 12 months on. A follow up article highlighting how Hearts collapse under pressure turned out to be the perfect metaphor for a tumultuous season for the Edinburgh side.

With a wry mix of analytics and tactical writing Blair Newman proved that it isn’t all doom and gloom for Hearts fans as he expertly highlighted the sides effectiveness from set pieces.

Months before the SFA finally sacked Alex McLeish, Blair, also put together a comprehensive breakdown of what direction he thinks the men’s National team needs to go in. It not only profiled some of the tactical variances in the Scottish Premiership which could be utilised, but also some of the young Scottish prospects that deserve to be worked into the team.

Another prolific writer from America is Matt Rhein, who has used data this season to profile individual players. Whilst not being a stranger to highlighting how good some of the best players in the league are, he has also profiled many players who may not be on everyone’s radar.

Despite living on the opposite side of the Atlantic, Matt, has not only an eye on Scottish football but also the Eliteserien in Norway, a passion he shares with own resident Norwegian Christian Wulff. This turned out to be an unexpected bonus as not only did Hibernian face Molde in the Europa League qualifiers at the start of the season but Celtic also faced Norwegian Champions, Rosenborg,  four times.

Whilst a large percentage of analytics work focuses on the attacking aspects, former goalkeeper, Christian Wulff, has always had an eye on analysing how teams defend (although it’s hardly surprising with one of Norway’s most promising defensive talents flourishing in the Scottish premiership).

Christian is also the man behind the thankless task of building our own xG model and wrote an excellent two-part article explaining not only the benefits of xG but also how the model was built.

Keeping us all on the straight and narrow behind the scenes is our resident PHD Statistician Seth Dobson who, amongst other things, taught us all that Random Forests and The Johnson Effect are not the names of Portlandian Shoe Gazing bands but actually really useful statistical models. His knowledge of R also helped introduce PassSonars for Scottish football.

Finally, it leaves me! I’ve tried to use the data provided to try and bridge the disconnect which is sometimes present between tactics and analytics by adjusting team statistics to better highlight how sides play. If like me though, you have been inspired to write about football as a hobby I put together a guide on how to do so…although don’t take it too literally, there are many roads to Rome.

When we started thinking seriously about getting the site off the ground we wanted to try and take all the best bit from our favourite sports analytics sites and see if we could produce similar things for Scottish football. As PassSonars, Expected Passing and Expected Points show we have managed to get enough data together to do that. That’s due to the support of our readers who contributed to our successful Kickstarter campaign which helped us guarantee data until the end of the 2019/20 season!

As well the financial support from our Kickstarter backers I’d like to take an opportunity to thank Ian Robson who designed our fantastic logo, We Welcome the Chase host Snagsy for his continued support of our work and similarly the lads at the 90 Minute Cynic. Last but not least, thanks needs to go out to everyone who has ever, liked, retweeted and shared any of our work. It’s much appreciated and I hope we have your continued support over the next twelve months as we try to build on what we are already doing to make the site bigger and better.

Jamie Kilday