West Ham vs Bournemouth: Callum Wilson's steep rise gives Cherries reason to believe

Wilson looked so at home that he could be this season's answer to Charlie Austin or Danny Ings

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The Independent Online

In a team full of remarkable stories, Callum Wilson’s barely stands out. His rise from Kettering Town and Tamworth FC to Saturday’s Premier League hat-trick happened within four years, but then most of his Bournemouth team-mates have similar backgrounds. The fact that Bournemouth paid Coventry City £3million for Wilson gives him a Hollywood tinge in his humble club.

But at any other club, Wilson would be a compelling figure. He looked very much a Premier League striker on Saturday afternoon, shredding West Ham United with his movement, taking his first two goals sweetly before killing the game from the penalty spot.

Wilson looked so at home that he could be this season’s answer to Charlie Austin or Danny Ings, two strikers who started off in non-league before scoring goals in the top flight last year. Of course, Queen’s Park Rangers and Burnley were both relegated, showing that a good striker alone is not always enough. But it is better to have one than not.

Eddie Howe knows how important Wilson will be to trying to keep Bournemouth in the top flight and was thrilled for the 23-year-old after the game on Saturday evening. “I am delighted for him,” Howe said, “as I am delighted for any player who shows the right attitude to their training, and their work and who proves any doubters wrong.”

Wilson’s difficult start at Coventry – he was loaned out twice before his breakthrough season in 2013-14 – has given him the mental resources to cope with success. “He’s had a steep rise, it’s not been easy for him,” Howe said. “He has had those hard experiences and that’s why, when you’re having a good spell, it’s so nice to look back and reflect on what a journey you’ve been on.”

Bournemouth’s other goal – the crucial third after West Ham had somehow pulled back to 2-2 – was scored by substitute Marc Pugh, whose journey is as impressive as any of his team-mates. 

“When we signed Marc and  the tribunal figure was £100,000 from Hereford, there were a few gulps in the boardroom,” recalled Howe, looking back on a very different time at AFC Bournemouth. “We had no money and it was a massive signing, which shows how far we’ve come. He deserves all the credit he gets.”

Pugh is not an automatic starter but Howe knows how important he is, for what he can do and for what he represents.  “With every challenge he has responded, grown and improved as the club has,” Howe said. “His attitude off the pitch epitomises everything we stand for.”

It was hard to tell  what West Ham stood for on Saturday, playing with no obvious plan. They should have lost this game by more goals than they did. Slaven Bilic said that his team did not do the basics right, which is true, but you wonder why they could not.

“Maybe the game against Arsenal has come into our heads,” Bilic said. “Maybe we think we are going to do that again, nice and easy, or in style. But in the Premier League against most clubs you have to dig in.”