Chris Sumpter believes Scunthorpe’s capture of Rory McArdle will be one of the best pieces of business in League One this summer.
“So good, my goldfish is named after him.”
High praise indeed on Twitter for Scunthorpe United’s newest signing Rory McArdle from a Bradford City fan, some 25 minutes after his arrival at Glanford Park was announced.
I’ve been fortunate to witness some great Iron players in my lifetime. Others who were so bad, they remain legendary.
Not once though have I felt strongly enough to immortalise any into my daily business by titling a pet in their hour.
Social media isn’t normally a platform I’d turn to as a barometer on new signings. Fans of a player’s former club tend to be negative when they’ve moved on.
Some of the criticism dished out is pragmatic, plenty more is obvious bitterness. Heck, maybe even a combination of the two.
But it’s clear from a brief trawl of Twitter that McArdle has been a good professional and an even better defender for the Bantams since he arrived at Valley Parade from Aberdeen in 2012.
His switch to Scunthorpe has also got United fans talking on the back of what, from the outside looking in at least, seems to have otherwise been a fairly quiet summer so far.
The Iron’s other two incomings – young Fulham centre-back Cameron Burgess and the vastly-experienced goalkeeper Matt Gilks – for sure look two decent acquisitions.
But then on the longest day, Scunthorpe made their biggest move.
I honestly believe McArdle will go down as one of the best bits of summer business across League One – probably in the same bracket as Bury’s move for the former Iron captain Stephen Dawson.
He’s experienced, a proven quality at this level and was far from surplus to requirements at a side who will rightly view Scunthorpe as rivals to their ambitions next season. When did someone of that ilk last rock up at Glanford Park?
Scunthorpe, if we’re to believe what’s been said, only began speaking to the no-nonsense centre-back directly a month or so ago.
“He’s someone we’ve had an eye on for a while, but we had to wait for the full season to finish before we could make contact and speak with him,” said boss Graham Alexander after McArdle’s unveiling.
It’s testament to the centre-back’s qualities that the wait proved to be so long.
Four weeks ago, of course, Bradford City were still coming to terms with the heartbreak of a play-off final defeat to Millwall.
Another season of being so-near-yet-so-far away from a return to the Championship for the Bantams. Another campaign in which McArdle played a sizeable part.
The former Northern Ireland international has started 179 matches in League One during the past five years. Seasons in which Bradford have finished 7th, 11th, 7th, 5th and 5th.
They’ve also possessed one of the most miserly defences in the division in recent years.
It was hard to see a few weeks ago how Scunthorpe would upgrade from the dependable David Mirfin when the decision was taken, after a total of eight years, three spells and just shy of 300 senior matches, to show the Minister of Defence the door.
But forged in the same Steel City as his predecessor, McArdle, at least on paper, would seem a fine replacement and his likely centre-back partnership with Murray Wallace is surely as good as is possible at this level?
We’ve heard plenty about the need to be ‘strong and stable’ in the last few months. Alexander is clearly keen to follow suit.