Cape Town - West
Ham captain Mark Noble concedes the atmosphere at the London Stadium
has become hostile after he clashed with a pitch invader on Saturday.
The Hammers' 3-0 defeat to Burnley was marred by pitch invasions and
an angry protest that took place below the directors' box, which led to
co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold leaving their seats before the
Noble was seen shoving a disgruntled fan to the ground after being
confronted during the first encroachment onto the pitch when the hosts
fell behind to Ashley Barnes' 66th-minute opener.
The Irons youth product insists he was protecting himself and
admitted mood around the ground this season is taking a toll on the
players, who need the supporters backing them.
"People have got to realise we are footballers and we are targets, but we have got to protect ourselves," he told Sky Sports after the match.
"Obviously there were a number of fans that got on the pitch and a lot of them were running over to where the chairmen were sat.
"But if someone approaches me personally, I'm going to protect
myself, for sure. It's such a big stadium and big area, it's hard for
security to stop everyone.
"We had fans run on the pitch and it does make the atmosphere really
tough to play in. To be honest, it's been like it for a while. The only
way to stop it is win games. Obviously we're not going to win every
"It's the way it's been going since the beginning of the season, that
a result - a win - is the only thing that's going to stop them voicing
their opinion. I am not saying it's all the West Ham fans. But a lot are
not happy. I think that is obvious now.
"If the players don't win games we are going to take the brunt of
things, which is fine, we understand they are frustrated. But obviously
we are going to lose games, and we are going to need them behind us."