One For the Future: CCV
Cameron Carter-Vickers is not exactly a household name. But he will be. Or at least he should be, soon. Carter-Vickers is among the most promising young talents at Spurs. Especially as Spurs continue to gain international prominence and as the sport itself gains a foothold in American television markets, the English-American center back has a chance to become a recognizable face in the highest levels of soccer. But as of now, CCV remains relatively unknown to casual fans. How does he make the leap? For most, it seems to be only a matter of time. Finding that time, though, is the real challenge ahead for Spurs.
First things first, Carter-Vickers is young. Very young. At just 19, we shouldn’t expect too much too early. But Spurs manager Mauicio Pochettino has his hopes high. Poch, who lest we forget was a tough central defender himself, has said CCV “will be one of the best center backs in England in the future”. But the first road block for Carter-Vickers moving forward with Spurs is embedded within that praise: “in the future”. Like all promising young players, CCV needs time to develop. We as fans must trust that Poch knows the squad well enough to balance young player development with the pressure to win now.
But on the other hand, we do need to ask how much time is really available for Carter-Vickers to develop with the team. Tottenham are in the terrific position of having the best defense in the Premier League, but playing behind world class talents like Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen leaves little room for the kind of consistent playing time necessary for a budding player like CCV to gain traction in the League. Last year, CCV made only four starts — against Aston Villa and Wycombe in the FA Cup and against Gillingham and Liverpool in the EFL Cup. We’ll resist the urge to judge his performances in those matches. It simply is not a large enough sample. So when can we expect to have a large enough sample? Luckily for Spurs fans, maybe sooner than you would expect.
Although Carter-Vickers was born in England and raised there by his mother, Geraldine Vickers, his father, Howard Carter, is an American (Howard was also the 15th overall pick in the 1983 NBA draft, for what it’s worth). That means Cameron is eligible to play internationally for the United States. He has already been a standout for the U-20 and U-23 teams, captaining the U-20 team against England and even making the gameday roster for the senior US Men’s National Team against Costa Rica. Spurs fans should be happy to see that CCV has playing time from other sources because it takes some pressure off of his lack of time playing for Spurs. There will inevitably be rumors that Carter-Vickers would be better off playing on loan for a smaller team where he can grow more quickly. But international play can be a tremendous training ground for young stars and solid playing time in the 2018 World Cup could be a huge indicator of whether Carter-Vickers is ready to see more of the pitch for Spurs.
Moreover, and thankfully, it appears that Tottenham recognize the need for CCV to see more of the pitch as well. Pochettino told football.london in May that Carter-Vickers (as well as Kyle Walker-Peters and Josh Onomah) should see more time in the upcoming season, which hopefully signals that Spurs will continue to focus on building a squad more than buying a squad — as other top Premier League teams tend to do. For a team without the financial wherewithal of Chelsea or Manchester United, continuing to find the stars of the future is the way forward.
For the upcoming season, Tottenham rightfully has their sights set high. The pressure to win trophies, following a season in which trophies were the only real missing piece, is immense. But Spurs have to be careful. The team cannot afford to forego the future for the sake of the present. That means players like Cameron Carter Vickers have to start seeing the time their potential deserves, for the good of the players and the club alike.