By Jason McKeown
The 25-year-old Northern Ireland international centre back, Rory McArdle, has today signed a two-year deal to join Bradford City. McArdle, who began his career at Sheffield Wednesday but only made one appearance, before two loan spells at Rochdale were converted into a permanent deal at Spotland in 2007. Then in 2010 he joined Aberdeen, and made over 50 appearances.
It was at Rochdale that McArdle first crossed paths with City. In fact, he scored a goal against the Bantams in March 2009 which triggered a collapse in a credible promotion push. Prior to heading to Spotland that evening, Stuart McCall’s City had just defeated Aldershot 5-0 to go 4th in the league with 11 games to go. But after Joe Colbeck gave away a cheap free kick from outwide and McArdle headed home the resultant cross, City went onto concede two penalties to lose 3-0 – and didn’t win for a further eight, promotion-wrecking matches.
City have not been anywhere near as close to getting promoted since that night, but McArdle rocks up at Valley Parade with confidence growing over mounting a challenge next season. Although McArdle is able to play as full back, his arrival casts huge doubt over Guy Branston’s future and possibly even Luke Oliver’s. Branston has been told to find a new club, but has come out, via Twitter, to declare he wants to stay and fight for his place. With Andrew Davies now on board and Oliver mulling over a contract offer (but rumours of other clubs looking to sign last season’s player of the year), McArdle’s arrival might suggest a first choice centre back pairing of the two summer recruits.
That or McArdle will take on the Marcel Seip role and play as one of the full backs, providing the sort of physical presence the Dutchman gave to the left side of defence last season. Phil Parkinson has spoken about McArdle being suited to right back, and the evidence of his near full year at Valley Parade is that the City manager is looking for solid, no-frills full backs who stay back rather than roam forwards.
Wherever he ends up playing, it’s to be hoped McArdle goes onto have the right kind of impact on the Bantams’ future, compared to his devastating contribution in March 2009.