Mark Noble says West Ham players are 'targets' and must protect themselves against invading fans
By Lyall Thomas
Last Updated: 11/03/18 7:22am
Mark Noble admits the West Ham players are finding the London Stadium atmosphere difficult to bear, but they must protect themselves against invasive supporters.
Captain Noble clashed with a fan that encroached the pitch as disorder occurred during Saturday's 3-0 defeat at home to Burnley, in which owners David Sullivan and David Gold were forced to leave the stadium early for their own protection.
Investigations are underway by the club and Premier League, and an emergency meeting of all London Stadium stakeholders has been called after Hammers supporters protested for the board to be sacked at full-time.
Noble told Sky Sports: "People have got to realise we are footballers and we are targets, but we have got to protect ourselves.
"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 game.
"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."
Ashley Barnes put Burnley ahead in the 66th minute, which triggered the first fan pitch invasion, before two Chris Wood goals put the game to bed on 70 and then 81 minutes.
Noble said: "For Burnley it was fantastic. It was great for them because the West Ham players were under a lot of pressure. We probably could not cope with it after they scored.
"It is hard for us at the minute because the fans are unhappy with the board obviously, and as soon as we go a goal down we get targeted.
"A lot of players have not played in that sort of atmosphere before. If we score a couple of goals things might change but we went 3-0 down and we got the things we did."