Mark Noble has attempted to heal the growing rift between West Ham’s fans and the club over the London Stadium move.
The Hammers’ opening matches at their new home have been played to a backdrop of ugly scenes in the stands, with supporters fighting amongst themselves during the 4-2 defeat by Watford a fortnight ago.
The problems stem from fans who want to sit down being seated behind sections who want to stand, and the club have moved quickly to relocate more than 200 supporters while working to improve the stewarding and segregation.
But while West Ham’s executive vice-chairman, Baroness Karren Brady, claims the move from Upton Park is “the most successful stadium migration in history”, the booing when her image flashed up on the big screen during the Hornets match suggested some supporters do not agree.
Such is the ill-feeling in parts of the former Olympic Stadium that skipper Noble, a boyhood Hammers fan and Upton Park regular before making his debut 12 years ago, asked to address the media ahead of Sunday’s visit of Southampton to call for calm.
The midfielder said: “It’s a fantastic stadium but first and foremost we need to sort out the differences among ourselves there, with the fans and the club.
“The board are doing everything they can to sort this out. We don’t want fans coming there with the hump. We want them to support us, not worry about other stuff.
“You think about young kids seeing what’s been going on and it isn’t right. But if someone pays good money for a seat and wants to stand up and cheer, and then has an 18-year-old steward telling him to sit down – you ask any West Ham fan what they’re going to say, it isn’t going to be nice.
“If a family of five go and they’ve got three children, we need them. But we also need the geezer sitting in front of them who wants to stand up and sing. That’s the problem, the kids cant see.
“People are getting upset but we need to come together and something needs to be done.”
The atmosphere has not been helped by events on the pitch with the Watford capitulation – West Ham were 2-0 up after 40 minutes – followed by another 4-2 defeat at West Brom and a lacklustre home win over Accrington in the EFL Cup which barely papered over the cracks
So it is not just the fans who are missing their old ground.
“It’s 100 percent different,” added Noble. “Upton Park was my home ground, and it’s like when we go to places like Stoke and Everton and the fans are on top of you and you really feel the atmosphere.
“That’s what we had at Upton Park. Other players always told us it was a tough place to play and we didn’t lose there last season from August until May.
“But it is what it is and we have to move on. We need to make the London Stadium a fortress.”