Chesterfield’s sale of Charlie Carter to Stevenage might raise eyebrows, but is it so outrageous?
Eyebrows that had only just settled back into place following a surprise signing, have shot up once again across North Derbyshire.
John Sheridan’s addition of the lesser-spotted Jack McKay, albeit for his new Development Squad rather than the first team, received a mixed reaction last week.
And so too, this week, has the sale of Charlie Carter.
The attacking midfielder spent 54 weeks as a Spireite, having been bought for what a ‘nominal fee’ from Woking.
After just 20 league games and four goals, he departed to join Stevenage and can now look forward to his Football League debut.
Two of those goals came in his first Proact appearance and the second was a beauty.
Carter picked up the ball just inside the Aldershot half, took it a little left, darted forward and just kept going.
The yellow sea parted before him and when he reached the box he tucked the ball away expertly as the Proact rose to acclaim the birth of a star.
At least that’s what we all thought, particularly when whispers of interest from League One clubs swirled around Sheffield Road as the summer transfer window closed.
And some will still hark back to that single scintillating performance, in their disagreement with the decision to sell him.
The 2018/19 season was a bit of a disaster, both for the player and the club.
By the end of September he’d twice injured the same ankle and subsequent surgery, along with an infection, kept him out for five months.
Martin Allen was robbed of the services of a man he expected to score lots of goals.
The Spireites struggled to find the net in his absence, a contributing factor to the results that cost Allen his job.
By the time Carter got himself fit, John Sheridan had taken up residence in the manager’s office and Chesterfield had started to turn a corner.
It was anticipated that Carter, a player who loves to get on the ball, would provide a huge boost for Town in their survival fight.
It was thought he’d make an advanced midfield role his own for the run-in, once fully up to speed.
Yet from mid-March it wasn’t the player Town purchased last summer who rose to prominence in the centre of the pitch, it was a homegrown one.
Joe Rowley re-emerged from his own difficult spell to seemingly find new confidence under Sheridan’s guidance.
It was Rowley who looked the more effective and creative, while Carter remained rusty.
He had just spent almost half a year on the sidelines, of course, something the manager was keen to highlight.
It wasn’t easy to stroll back into a side that was easing their way out of relegation trouble and finding form.
But even as the season wound to a comfortable finish, even if Carter hadn’t hit the strides that created such a buzz back in August, there was little or no suggestion his time as a Spireite was coming to a close.
It was only in June, when Liam Mandeville arrived and Sheridan earmarked him for a goalscoring midfield role, that it began to become possible that Carter wasn’t top of the pecking order.
Given how highly Sheridan rates Rowley, maybe the writing was on the wall.
Some Spireites are angry at the sale and the term that actually applies to almost all clubs will be bandied about.
Yes, Chesterfield are – like almost all clubs – a selling club. They’re a non-league club now after all.
And if a player the manager isn’t planning to build his team around can be moved on for money, in a transfer that sees the player join a club at a higher level, is it so outrageous?
On the evidence of his home debut, maybe it is.
On what we saw following his return to fitness, maybe not.
Carter has attributes that give him every chance of succeeding as a goalscoring midfielder.
He might well tear up League Two and go on to become a top, top player.
If he does, Chesterfield will still benefit financially, although not as handsomely as Stevenage.
But however you look at it, this just isn’t on the same scale as Jay O’Shea being allowed to leave on loan to a divisional rival in the midst of a dire looking relegation battle.
Sheridan evidently doesn’t believe this move is a mistake and now he’s got to ensure Chesterfield’s 2019/20 campaign proves him right.