WITH the clocks due to go back tonight, Bradford City boasting no less than seven ever-presents in League One says everything about the value Phil Parkinson puts on continuity.
All seven were also key figures in taking the Bantams to Wembley twice last season and Rory McArdle believes the benefits of this new-found stability in the Valley Parade dressing room are clear for all to see.
The defender, fresh from scoring City’s equaliser in Tuesday’s battling 2-2 draw at Preston North End, said: “Hopefully, we have started to put a marker down in this division.
“We had a blip with those two defeats but we bounced back at Preston to set us up for a game we knew would be one of our toughest of the season.
“League One has been pretty much what we expected. A blend of everything, really. Quite a few of the teams try to play a bit, as opposed to what happened last season.
“But I don’t think there is a big difference. We have kept the same team from last season’s play-off final. We knew we had good players here and that they would be able to make the step-up.”
Today brings Wolverhampton Wanderers to Valley Parade and City expect one of their biggest crowds of the season.
McArdle, who has missed just three games this season, said: “I am sure our fans will get behind us and there is no reason why we can’t get anything out of the game. Games like this are great and show what last season has done for the club.
“When you are going to teams like Plymouth and Exeter, sitting on the bus for six or seven hours, you think, ‘Hopefully, this point can make all the difference’.”
For McArdle, his headed equaliser at Deepdale continued a fine season for a defender who a week earlier had made his first competitive start for Northern Ireland in the World Cup qualifier draw with Israel.
He said: “Playing my first competitive game for Northern Ireland was great. I thought I had a chance of playing after Jonny (Evans) got sent off in Azerbaijan (the previous Friday) and I got the nod.
“It was brilliant and something I will never forget.
“I want to use that experience of my first competitive cap to keep us going through the season.”