Former England striker Luther Blissett sees no reason why his old clubs Bournemouth and Watford cannot both hold their own in the Barclays Premier League next season. Press Association The Cherries were the surprise package in the Sky Bet Championship as they secured the title to make it into the top flight for the first time. Watford, meanwhile, edged out Norwich and Middlesbrough to claim the second automatic promotion place, returning to the Premier League following an eight-season absence. While both, along with play-off winners Norwich, are bookmakers’ favourites for a swift relegation, Blissett – who enjoyed spells at each club during the 1980s – has every confidence they can upset the formbook. “I have a sneaky feeling both Watford and Bournemouth might just be okay in the Premier League this year,” Blissett told Press Association Sport. “If you look at it say from 12th place down, then you have probably got a chance of getting enough points off those teams to give yourself a chance of staying up. “Both squads will have players capable of giving it a right go. “If they both stay up, then the smaller clubs can say, ‘well if Watford and Bournemouth can do it, then we can do it’, and that can only make our football in this country stronger.” Blissett played for the Cherries under Harry Redknapp from 1988 to 1991, before returning for a third spell at Vicarage Road. The one-time AC Milan frontman – who famously netted a hat-trick on his England debut against Luxembourg in 1982 – has been impressed with the work ethic installed by Eddie Howe over the past couple of seasons at the Goldsands Stadium. “For me Bournemouth are a phenomenal story for what they have done, from nearly going out of business and today here they are looking forward to a season playing the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool,” said Blissett. “The manager has done an exceptional job with players who fit into his philosophy and I think they might just surprise a few people in the Premier League. “You have to trust what Eddie Howe has achieved at the club since he has been there, turning things right around, and how he will go about it now. “There will not be too many big names because he does not want to upset the dressing room, which is a very happy place. “You just need one or two players in the right positions, and that will give you a chance.” Blissett, who took part in the Prostate Cancer UK London to Amsterdam bike ride, made his name at Watford, where his goals helped the Hertfordshire club rise to the old First Division under Graham Taylor, runners-up to Liverpool in 1983. The 57-year-old believes the current squad, set to be managed by new head coach Quique Flores, have plenty of attacking talent to get the results they need back among the elite clubs. “If Watford are going to make the next step, then it is going to be a combination of the players being hungry enough, and they are because they showed great quality last season, and then somebody with real Premier League experience who can help guide them,” he said. “Watford are capable of scoring goals – Troy Deeney scored more than 20 goals again for the third season in a row; Matej Vydra, okay so it did not quite work out for him in the Premier League the season before (at West Brom), but he is a great finisher and Odion Ighalo is amazing, he really turned it on mid-season. “Fernando Forestieri is another with great ability who can beat people and you are going to need that to unlock some of these defences.” More than 250 riders set off from Leyton Orient on Friday morning to cycle to Harwich, before a ferry crossing to Holland ahead of Saturday’s final leg of the 145-mile journey to Amsterdam, with a fundraising target of £300,000 for Prostate Cancer UK’s Men United campaign. Blissett said: “It is now three years I have been involved in this bike ride and the amount of people we now have involved is incredible. “The money we are raising can now go forwards to the research to help save lives.” :: Men United is Prostate Cancer UK’s movement for everyone who believes that men are worth fighting for, to help us beat prostate cancer and keep friendships alive. This summer Men United has many fun ways for people to see their mates, from bike rides, sponsored walks, BBQs and quiz nights – all whilst doing something great for Prostate Cancer UK. Search Men United, or visit prostatecanceruk.org/menunited.
#Cardinals cast a wide net for starters, did engage on Wheeler for example (I was not able to confirm that before, did moments ago) and other pitchers with more control (i.e., Ray, as you know). Not willing to part with Carlson, Gorman. #MLB #stlcards https://t.co/kwFRM5uMxD— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) July 31, 2019Detroit lefty Matthew Boyd is under club control for three more seasons, but he’s having a breakthrough year — seriously, his strikeout numbers are WAY up — and it made sense that the Tigers would sell as high as possible on Boyd while supplementing their rebuilding process. He stayed put. Meanwhile, the Rangers have fallen out of playoff contention (mostly) and it made sense they’d trade Mike Minor, the lefty All-Star pitcher who has one more year on his contract. But, nope. Same thing with Arizona and lefty Robbie Ray. The asking prices were said to be astronomical. Dbacks asked the Yankees for Clint Frazier plus 3 prospects for Robbie Ray. That’s not happening. Sides very far apart @BNightengale called talk dead— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 31, 2019But, yeah, with so many contenders craving starting pitching, it was still very surprising to see so many available starting pitchers staying with their old/current teams. 5. Astros land GreinkeWait, what? OK, this one’s not surprising for the content of the deal — the Astros clearly wanted a top-of-the-rotation piece, and Greinke made sense for a lot of reasons — but for when the trade news broke, at 4:13 p.m. ET, in a tweet by Ken Rosenthal. It wasn’t the last trade news to break, but to have something that big go down almost 15 minutes after the deadline passed sent a bit of a shock wave through Twitter. MORE: How to watch “ChangeUp,” an MLB whip-around show, for free on DAZNThe elimination of that back-up plan figured to make things interesting, and that’s what happened. But even when expecting the unexpected, we were surprised by several of the moves that played out in the week or so leading up to the deadline.Let’s take a look.1. Mets trade for StromanWait, what? The Mets had been seen as definite sellers for months. Starter Zack Wheeler, a free agent after the season, was sure to be dealt and the only question was whether they’d trade Noah Syndergaard — Thor wondered himself — and struggling closer Edwin Diaz, along with guys like Todd Frazier and others. But then they pulled off the deal for Marcus Stroman, the Toronto All-Star who was seen as one of the most valuable starters on the trade market.It was surprising not just because it was the Mets — not the Yankees, Phillies, Astros, Cardinals or any of the other above-.500 teams who needed starters — who pulled off the deal, but because it happened on Sunday, a couple of days before the deadline, and the package the Mets sent to Toronto wasn’t exactly overwhelming. Even now, we’re still scratching our heads. 2. Reds trade for BauerWait, what? This one really came from left field (not center field, where Bauer launched his final throw in a Cleveland uniform on the field in Kansas City), for a couple of reasons. First, it was still hard to believe that the Indians, a team in prime playoff position with World Series aspirations, would trade an ace-type pitcher like Bauer who wasn’t a free agent until after 2020. But nobody thought the Reds — a team in fourth place in the NL Central, still under .500 — would be the team to spring for the deal.But that’s how it went down, a three-team deal that gave Cleveland a huge offensive boost (Franmil Reyes and Yasiel Puig) plus prospects and landed former Cincy prospect Taylor Trammell in San Diego. Not to mention, San Diego’s haul seemed very light; Trammell is a nice prospect, but Reyes has 27 homers this year in the majors and many years remaining of club control. 3. Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals, Phillies and Red Sox sit stillWait, what? I wrote about this last night, but even after a night to sleep on it, it’s still kind of stunning that these five teams — all with World Series or at least deep-into-October dreams — let the trade deadline come and go without addressing serious flaws in their roster construction. From the fans’ perspective, it was infuriating. The front offices talked about high asking prices, but still.4. MadBum & Co., the starters who stayed putWait, what? Coming into the season, and even heading into July, it was hard to imagine any scenario (short of an injury) that included Madison Bumgarner wearing a Giants uniform in August and September. But then the Giants rattled off a 19-6 record in July and climbed back to the fringes of contention, and suddenly a deal wasn’t a sure thing. And sure enough, the lefty with impeccable October numbers was not traded (or even asked to approve a deal to teams on his no-trade list). That was surprising, but he wasn’t the only lefty starter who won’t have a new uniform this month. Zack Wheeler, well, we discussed the Mets a bit already. He stayed put. The Mets talked about him, but they asked for the moon when the moon wasn’t on the table. I said often in the weeks leading up to the July 31 trade deadline that I was fascinated to see how this year’s extravaganza would play out. Lots of new factors were in the mix, primarily the elimination of the Aug. 31 trade deadline. Sure, that one was a bit more complicated; players had to placed on waivers, then either moved to the team that claimed them or traded to anyone if they passed through. But the bottom line was if a contender needed help, it could find help, and if a team fell out of contention and needed to move pieces for prospects, it could do that, too.