I’ve been rambling about some “big plans for 2021/22” for too long now, so it’s time to make it official. On July 19, first three in-depth club previews for the upcoming Fortuna:Liga season will be dropping on this site, ultimately covering all 15 old F:Liga participants before the season kicks off, and there’s more to come once the Czech top flight resumes once again. Read on to find out what exactly do we have in stock…
We’ll do it as a Q&A, and right off the bat, the obvious elephant in the room:
Aren’t you forgetting about someone?
Yes, FC Hradec Králové are getting left out. For now only. I believe I have an extensive track record of paying as much attention to a promoted side as to a contender. Believe me, nothing is changing on that approach; after all, I’ve spent many great years as a university student in Hradec, so if anyone, it’s me who’d love to write/rave about them. But I’ve also made it my rule to not go off first impressions or even just a couple of odd matches, and however sad it is to me as it might be to you, I haven’t seen any 2nd tier club nearly enough to feel confident about doing them proper justice as part of a regular 2021/22 preview series. I already know for sure I won’t even find time to do a deep dive in all sorts of advanced stats to at least deliver some sort of a condensed version. So instead of giving you a half-cooked product I wouldn’t feel too good about anyway, I’m simply choosing to rather not give you anything on Hradec Králové for now, with a promise of rich compensation while the season is actually ongoing, and use that leftover energy on delivering — as footballers would say themselves — 110% on the remaining 15 teams.
Will I have to pay anything to read the previews?
No. And not ever. You may choose to, but you won’t have to anymore.
As you’re probably aware, earlier this year I had set up a Patreon page. And while it was genuinely very satisfying to see more than 10 people taking the time and going through all the labour of setting up a Patreon account, hooking it to PayPal or whatnot and generally spending way too much energy on click just to support me, the creator’s page is now unlaunched and gone.
The reason is simple: those Newsletters were, on average, read by two patrons. And while not many writers enjoy putting hours of research into a piece with no financial return, even self-respecting writers enjoy creating content exclusively for two people, so… something had to give.
Thus, I’ve chosen to go down a different, hopefully more reader-friendly route:
I’ve set up a BuyMeACoffee profile to A) allow for one-off donations that can be done B) without logging in, which should both be an upgrade. There’s still an option of a monthly membership, too, but it’s merely for general support; no additional content is tied to it because, to be completely honest, I sometimes struggled to meet all the targets I had set for myself. The in-season coverage will still be intense, I hope, but only as regular as my day job allows, with a varying volume of articles between individual weeks and months.
Why should I even donate/subscribe at all?
First of all, it’s not just me anymore, at least not for the preview series. Since my graphic skills have largely remained stuck in 1st grade — and since Adam Procházka offered his own vastly superior skills a couple of weeks ago — I’ve decided to “expand”. As you’ll see for yourself in no time, Adam is currently working on dozens of fancy pizza charts and other tables for your informative pleasure, and should your collective July donation reach a certain amount (say 20 euros), I’ll make sure to chuck him a well-deserved portion of it.
On the whole, between Adam and myself, literal hundreds of hours will have gone to all kinds of processing of raw data that I draw from the paid Wyscout database. While some metrics I interpret are indeed readily available on the platform, I still need to pump them into my spreadsheets, and into my model that compares individual players on every key position (GK, FB, CB, CDM, CAM, W, CF) based on a specially designed set of metrics I consider vital. Even those metrics that appear to be readily available — like touches in opposition box or progressive runs, where it seems enough to just take the number and divide it by appearances to get an average — they are in fact not quite ready for my purpose; I still need to manually extract only the successful touches and the completed progressive runs to measure one’s efficiency etc. Then there’s a set of metrics no public database offers in the first place (like cutback passes, crossfield passes, or post-shot xG for strikers) where I need to track every single one of pass/shot game-by-game. A ton of work comes into the output.
To be clear, I’m not writing this to make you feel sorry for me or anything; it’s still a passion I choose to feed, a side-gig I willingly choose to pursue. This is more to give you an idea what all of data/tactical analysis you see on the internet, on Twitter, means for those creating it. Do you, perhaps, enjoy the colourful schemes David creates to bring more tone to present analysis of Czech performances at 2020 Euro? They are so pleasant to the eye and so easy to derive important information from, yet they take hours to make.
You may say it’s “just Twitter” but this is no (horrible Lineker’s) joke, trust me.
Second of all, more to the what for instead of why would you be paying: the preview series of ours won’t be your usual mainstream one. No off-the-cuff predictions of where the said club will finish (I know, sorry), no summaries of all transfers or pre-season results, no “biggest star” even. You’ll find these types of previews at your usual places in due time, I’m sure, whereas this series is specially designed to complement them rather than replace them.
This series will also expect you to have at least some grasp of the Czech top flight landscape. Not much, but it won’t be a starter’s pack either; it will look to build on your existing knowledge — hopefully giving you a new perspective on a few things — rather than instilling any basic knowledge in the first place.
All 15 club previews will roughly follow this template:
A look back at 2020/21, highlighting:
- what went right, what went wrong for them;
- club’s 2020/21 MVP (according to my arbitrary model);
- who comes into 2021/22 with a lot to prove/chip on the shoulder;
- data on U-23 players usage in 20/21 and % of players retained;
An overview of the off-season thus far, highlighting:
- major moves (biggest addition, greatest subtraction,…);
- fan’s view of the pre-season (stand-out players, new tactics?);
A look ahead towards 2021/22, highlighting:
- current roster breakdown ranking each position league-wide;
- a 2020/21-derived statistical/tactical trend to follow in 2021/22;
- a bold/fun prediction that does not concern standings.
The plan is to publish three previews a day, across 5 days between 19-23 July, with the last one hopefully going up way before the Saturday season kick-off. Now as for in-season coverage, there’s next to no plan laid out. I do want to run performance-based Power Rankings every mid-week (because, duh, results-based rankings are… the actual standings), but beyond that, my mood and energy will dictate everything. A newsletter every now and then, a big feature perhaps, hopefully some sort of mid/end-of-the-season awards…
I hope I’ll see you on board!