It was easy to notice that Villa’s extended injury break in 2018 coincided – roughly– with the first half of Dome’s tenure when the team won.
Dome coached 19 games. Villa started 11 of them. Ten of those starts came during the 13 points in 13 games stretch to close the season. Under Dome, the team did much better without Villa in the lineup.
So I set out to look into this further. First, I divided the games into With Villa or Without Villa. Villa games are games in which he started and went 50 minutes or more. There were 19 of those. That leaves 15 where he either didn’t start or failed to go at least 50 minutes. I got the following lines:
With Villa (19 games)
Goals For 28
Goal Diff -1
Goals Against 29
Without Villa (15 games)
Goals For 31
Goal Diff +15
Goals Against 16
The Scorers in non Villa Games were
Shradi 7 of his 11
Maxi 6 of 8
Berget 4 of 4
Medina 4 of 6
Tinny and Ring 2 (each), that is 4 of their 6 combined
1 each for Mata, Ofori, Castellanos, Wallace, and Lewis
Also Villa scored a PK in a game he did not start that ended in a draw
The team won more, scored more and gave up fewer goals without Villa. By a lot.
Together, Shradi, Maxi, Berget and Medina scored 21 of their 29 goals in the 15 games without Villa. Holy crap. It is one thing to step up when the team’s star is unavailable. It is another to disappear when he is playing.
By the way, the H/A splits for with Villa/without Villa games is
With Villa 9H 10A
Without Villa 8H 7A
So that is a very slight advantage for the non-Villa games but also is as close as it can be given the odd number split. The difference is not explained by the Home advantage. It is also worth noting that the better performance without Villa was true both Under Vieira and Torrent, and that the worst subset was with Villa under Torrent, which is not surprising as it largely coincides with the 13 point in 13 game period, which caused me to delve into this in the first place.
There is still a lot of correlation/causation to tease out here. Did the coaches alter the team to favor Villa too much? Was Villa too demanding of getting the ball near goal? Were other players too deferential to Villa?
This is the untold story of 2018.