English Premiership

Noble defends on-pitch confrontation with fan

Mark Noble.(Getty Images)
Mark Noble.(Getty Images)

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 final whistle.

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 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."

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