No one dreams of an uncertain future. It is the most unnerving situation when hopes fade of a path that is planned for you; ready to take forward steps without being shrouded with ambiguity. Should you become unaware of what lies ahead, decisions need to be made as to how you are going to shape your own destiny. For Steven Caulker, those decisions may need to be made imminently. With no guarantee that his career at Tottenham will flourish this season, will the 20-year-old be content with playing a bit part at White Hart Lane, or will another loan move, which have treated Caulker so well in the past, be the sensible decision for a defender who still has a lot of maturing to do?
With a changing of the guard at Tottenham this summer, it’s fair to say that everyone has a chance to showcase to the new man at the helm why they are worthy of a place in the team. Indication from his unflattering tenure at Chelsea tells us that Andre Villas-Boas is willing to give youth a chance to shine in the spotlight. Daniel Sturridge seldom made an appearance at Stamford Bridge before the Portuguese took the reins. The English striker soon became an ever-present for the Blues, often starting ahead of Didier Drogba or Nicolas Anelka. Whilst no Spurs fan will want an overhaul of the senior players for inexperienced youth, Caulker will be able to see light at the end of the tunnel and under Villas-Boas will quite feasibly frequent the pitch more often.
Caulker may have been one of just a handful of Spurs fans who recouped some positives from the retirement of Ledley King. An unrivalled legend at White Hart Lane, any newcomer to King’s positional vacancy will find it nigh on impossible to claim the affection that the 31-year-old recieved from the supporters. However, for Caulker it is another fallen man that enables him to crawl his way up the centre half pecking order at Tottenham. Now, the young defender could consider himself fourth or fifth choice for the central defensive position. Younes Kaboul had a mightily impressive season last term, while new signing Jan Vertonghen is expected to be a first team member in lieu of his transfer fee and insatiable form in Holland. Michael Dawson is no stranger to the phsyio’s table but will still demand a start whenever available. William Gallas’ best years were played out down the road from White Hart Lane. Whilst still a valuable squad player, the 34-year-old will unlikely see much Premier League action this campaign if he is not sold before the transfer window slams shut. This defensive talent pool will heighten Caulker’s quandary but will also make his appetite to impress limitless. After all, the 20-year-old now has a Premier League season under his belt thanks to an astute loan move to relatively high-flying Swansea. Having been selected for Team GB Men’s Football squad at the ongoing Olympics, Caulker will only receive countless benefits from training and playing with the likes of Ryan Giggs and Micah Richards. With such rapid growth in just one year, the young defender could be utilised more often by Villas-Boas, especially since Spurs will be facing a fixture-congested season thanks to their Europa League qualification.
While the positives for Steven Caulker to stay at Tottenham are apparent, it will be solely down to whether Villas-Boas believes he can cut it at such a high level. While Swansea have transformed themselves into a legitimate Premier League outfit, the pressure at the club was almost invisible. Tottenham are a different story, especially as they have cemented themselves as a top six club. Mistakes are noticed and condemned, the burden is intense and media coverage is constant. The possibility of another season-long loan to a Premier League club with a smaller reputation may be the answer that Caulker will be so desperately looking for. In any case, the most valued commodity for a footballer is game time, something that the young defender will surely find in more regularity should he search for a new temporary employer.
Spurs fans, what do you think of Steven Caulker? Can he play a part for the club this season? Share your thoughts and go head to head with me on twitter @mattpegg1