A reminder of Crawley’s past and present will provide a fascinating sub-plot as the Reds visit MK Dons today.
The departure of Kyle McFadzean was one of a number of blows Crawley fans suffered in the summer.
McFadzean was a central figure in the most glorious period of the club’s history to date.
He was part of the side that helped the Reds win the Conference premier title in 2010 as well as reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup where they played Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The following year McFadzean savoured promotion again with the North Sussex club as they went straight up from League Two and reached the last 16 of the FA Cup again.
A quality performer, a leader, a man who made Crawley’s heart tick, it was no surprise that a number of clubs tried to lure the former Alfreton centre-back away from the Checkatrade.com Stadium.
MK Dons eventually succeeded where Peterborough, Bristol City and Brentford had failed when they signed the 27-year-old in June for an undisclosed fee believed to include an initial payment of £150,000.
McFadzean’s value was emphasised again when he was part of Karl Robinson’s side which shocked Manchester United 4-0 in the Capital One Cup in midweek.
He was one of a number of players who left Crawley in the summer as the club made significant cuts to their playing budget to cope with a tougher financial climate.
Andy Drury, Billy Clarke, Mat Sadler, Mike Jones, Paul Jones and Dannie Bulman also departed while popular loan striker Matt Tubbs failed to return for a third spell at the club.
In their places came a host of signings including a number of free transfers and trialists.
Among them was experienced striker Izale McLeod moving in the opposite direction to McFadzean from MK Dons. So was the effective player swap good business or bad business for Crawley?
A player of McFadzean’s quality is tough to replace but players move on and Crawley remain well catered for in central defence.
McFadzean’s former housemate, the highly-rated Joe Walsh, was retained and Dean Leacock signed on a free transfer from Notts County – he already looks an astute capture – while the versatile Sonny Bradley has come from Portsmouth.
While McFadzean was sometimes prone to the odd lapse in concentration, no one wanted him to go but Crawley at least made a profit on a player who it seemed would leave at some stage, rather than watching his contract run down and leave for nothing.
McLeod, of course, came in for nothing in terms of a transfer fee but the 29-year-old former England under-21 striker began to repay the faith shown by his former Derby boss John Gregory by netting the only goal as Crawley won 1-0 in their opening three games of the season. Aside from his goals, McLeod has made an impressive contribution and – alongside Leacock and Brian Jensen – looks to be a quality signing by Gregory.
While Gregory would love to have McFadzean and McLeod, money dictates lower level football is not an ideal world and on that basis, Crawley will feel they have come out of their summer dealings having done good business.