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Teams of the Year – Breakout

January 9, 2011

In football, twelve months is a long time. Managers can lose two different high-profile jobs. Talismen can demand to be allowed to leave and then change their mind. And stars can be created.

Just one year is all that is needed for a player to make their mark on the footballing world. In 2010, quite a few ‘unknown’ players stood up and made their mark on the footballing world; not just domestically but on an international level as well. Names that you necessarily may not have heard of a year ago are now instantly recognisable to quite a few across the footballing world. Kicking off The First Eleven’s Teams of the Year series, we praise eleven such men whose careers will not be the same thanks to the sparkling 2010 they enjoyed. We present the 2010 Breakout Team of the Year.

Goalkeeper: #1 Manuel Neuer

The manner in which Manuel Neuer came to be handed the number one jersey for Germany was rather fortuitous but everything following his promotion has been excellent from the 24 year-old stopper. Following the untimely death of Robert Enke in November 2009 and a pre-World Cup injury to Rene Adler before the tournament in South Africa, Neuer skipped from third choice to first choice in a matter of months. Taking the opportunity with both hands, Neuer produced performances similar to the incredible feats he has produced for Schalke 04 and established as the German number one for the long-term. Quickly made a transfer target of Bayern Munich and Manchester United amongst others, Neuer has continued his fine form into the new season and is one of five goalkeepers shortlisted for the UEFA Team of the Year.

Right-back: #2 Gregory van der Wiel

At the end of the 2009/10 season, Gregory van der Wiel won the Johan Cruyff award for the ‘Young Player of the Year’ in the Netherlands. Tipped in a number of circles as the eventual successor to Michael Reiziger at right-back for Holland, 2010 has seen van der Wiel continue to grow as a right back. Part of the World Cup squad that finished runners-up to Spain, van der Wiel isn’t far from being the complete full-back for club and country.

Left-back: #3 Fabio Coentrao

Mainly deployed as a left-back but with the attacking ability and guile of a left winger, Fabio Coentrao has enjoyed quite the year for both Benfica and Portugal. Having established in the both teams towards the end of 2009, Coentrao went from strength-to-strength in 2010. He was a big highlight for his national squad in what was a rather lacklustre World Cup campaign for the Portuguese. For Benfica, he has been a surge of many right-sided players and produced arguably his performance of the year as Benfica overcame Lyon 4-3 at the end of September. His first-time lob to make it 4-0 was brilliant.

Holding midfielder: #4 Charlie Adam

Twelve months ago, Charlie Adam was part of a Blackpool team half-way through a meteoric rise up the Championship table. Having started the 2009/10 season as relegation favourites in the English second-flight, Adam lead the Seasiders to first-of-all qualify for the Play-Offs and then secure a place in the Premiership with a 3-2 win over Cardiff. Seven months on and Blackpool are on track for a secure mid-table finish even if all of the early predictions had them pegged to end up scoring the lowest total of points of any Premier League ever and Charlie is a big reason for their continued rise. The 25 year-old is the heart of the team, playing just in front of the defence and simply picking teams apart with his incredible range of passing. It’s no surprise that Adam has been targeted by a host of ‘big name’ Premier League teams although for now, he is insisting on remaining loyal to Blackpool.

Centre-half: #5 Adil Rami

Thanks to the introduction of Laurent Blanc as the national manager of France and his apparent policy of clearing Les Bleus of its old deadwood, Adil Rami is on the fast-track to becoming one of Europe’s elite centre backs. Having struck up a strong partnership with Phillippe Mexes at the heart of the French defence and signed a multi-year contract with Valencia, Rami is enjoying the benefits of having been given a chance. He will finish the 2010/11 with Lille on loan before formally joining his new club in time for the 2011/12 season.

Centre-half: #6 Phil Jagielka

Without doing anything ground-breaking or extraordinary, Phil Jagielka has enhanced his reputation so much that he is probably England’s first choice centre back right now. Through consistent, strong and assured performances for Everton and then England towards the end of 2010, Jagielka has proved to be another successful product of David Moyes’ policy of blooding lower-level players in the Premiership.

Right winger: #7 Thomas Muller

As if playing his way into a club side already featuring Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery on either wing wasn’t hard enough, Thomas Muller made his mark on Bayern Munich by taking up the coveted role behind the lone striker, playing for long parts as the new-fangled ‘central winger’. The young German hasn’t looked back. He was voted the Young Player of the tournament at the World Cup and also picked up the Golden Boot trophy along the way thanks to his five goals and three assists in South Africa. No longer is Muller an unknown kid in Germany’s biggest team. He is now seen as just as much of a threat as his more illustrious team-mates.

Central mifielder: #8 Mesut Ozil

Mesut Ozil has arguably enjoyed the biggest rise of this whole Breakout Team. He only cement his starting place in the Werder Bremen side when Diego departed for Juventus and had Michael Ballack been fit for the World Cup, it was widely accepted that Ozil would simply start on the bench. Lucky for him, he took his chance brilliantly and is now crucial to seemingly everything good that Real Madrid seem to do. A crucial part of the side that Jose Mournho is building at the Bernabeu, Ozil’s rise has been phenomenal. So much so that he was originally part of the 23 man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or.

Striker: #9 Javier Hernandez

In April, Manchester United announced that they had penned a deal to sign Javier Hernandez. United fans all collectively asked ‘Who?’ Nine months on and they are all heralded ‘Chicharito’ as the new Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Two footed and excellent in the air given his diminutive height, Hernandez made himself known with two excellent goals at the World Cup where he was recorded as the fastest player at the championships. The little striker has quickly endeared himself to the Old Trafford faithful with nine goals in his first few months with the club.

Support striker: #10 Pedro

Just when teams had worked out a plan to deal with Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and co., Barcelona unleashed Pedro onto the footballing world. Another product of the incredible La Masia youth academy, the versatile attacker’s introduction has added another string to the Brca bow. Sufficiently different from his partners-in-crime Lionel Messi and David Villa, the young Spaniard had a great year in 2010 that culminated when he was part of the World Cup winning Spain, having taken the place of Fernando Torres up front. Since the summer, Pedro has gone from strength-to-strength in the FCB team and now ranks alongside his superstar colleagues.

Left winger: #11 Gareth Bale

It’s fair to say that whole of British football has been waiting for Gareth Bale to explode onto the footballing world. Ever since he was earmarked as a potential great in the Football Manager/Championship Manager series’, everyone has simply waiting for the former Southampton player to showcase that projected ability in real-life. Although he did threaten that it would never happen as his early Tottenham career was blighted by poor performances. Eventually he took his chance in the third round of the 2010 F.A. Cup and played so well he had to keep his place. That impressive run of performances has continued for the entire year and seen him scouted by Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. Bale’s crowning moments of 2010 came in two games against Inter in the Champions League when he first scored a hat-trick and then turned in a man of the match performance against the helpless Maicon.

2010 Breakout Team of the Year

So, there you are. The First Eleven’s Breakout Team of the Year. Think someone shouldn’t be there? Or there is a player more deserving of a spot in the team? Let us know in the comments below.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2011 6:30 pm

    Great piece. Always a hiding to nothing ”breakout teams” as you’ll no doubt get pedants saying ”but x player has been playing for years”.

    Hell to them, I say, a fine piece. Pretty much agree with the selection.


  2. January 9, 2011 8:53 pm

    Interesting piece. I agree with the comment above, always on a hiding to nothing as selective XI is subjective, but difficult to disagree with any suggested.

    An interesting point on Phil Jagielka, whose career I have followed with interest for obvious reasons. Capello has stated that, when fit, Ferdinand and Terry are his centre back pairing which smacks of a lack of flexibility and a lack of recognition of form/consistency. I only wish your statement regarding being first choice was true!

  3. January 11, 2011 1:22 pm

    I like Charlie Adam alot as a player but really?!

    What about Hernanes, Wilshere or Sahin?

    • January 11, 2011 9:32 pm

      I wouldn’t have picked Charlie Adam if I didn’t think he deserved his place. Twelve months ago, Rangers couldn’t wait to be rid of him. Now he is a transfer target for quite a few Premier League clubs and he has done it by stamping his playing style on games.

      I haven’t seen a lot of Hernanes playing so I didn’t think it would be right to put him in on just pure hype.
      Wilshere will have a better 2011 than 2010. He’s still a bit part player for Arsenal. I imagine his next 12 months will be much more important and he’ll be considered a lot more than just a player of huge potential.
      I had to Google Sahin to find out who he is so I can’t put in someone I’ve never heard of. Not exactly filling the criteria of the team.

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