Mark Noble understands the frustrations of West Ham fans, but defended his right to protect himself after tussling with a pitch invader who approached him during the 3-0 loss against Burnley.
Ashley Barnes broke the deadlock midway through the second half at London Stadium and after that goal and a further two from substitute Chris Wood, West Ham supporters entered the field in worrying and regrettable scenes.
The Premier League match was played out against a backdrop of fan frustration with the Hammers board and, as that spilled over on to the field, one man approach Noble and the midfielder wrestled him to the floor.
West Ham have announced a "full and thorough" investigation into Saturday's events and captain Noble, who has played for the club throughout his professional career, told Sky Sports he accepted the volatility around an ongoing battle against relegation for David Moyes' side.
"We are footballers and we are targets but we have got to protect ourselves. A lot of fans got on the pitch," he said.
"In all honesty, a lot of them were running over to where the chairman was sitting but if one approaches me I'm going to defend myself.
"We went 1-0 down and had fans run on the pitch. It does make the atmosphere really tough to play in."
A pivotal match against fellow strugglers Southampton is up next and Noble added: "The only way to stop it is to win games. Obviously we're not going to win every game.
"The way it's been going since the beginning of the season – a win is the only thing that is going to stop the fans voicing their opinion.
"They're not happy with what's going on and if we don't win games we're going to take the brunt of things.
"We understand they are frustrated but obviously we are going to lose games and need them behind us.
"I'm not saying all West Ham fans but there are a lot of them in this stadium who are not happy and it's a tough atmosphere to play in."
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.