Aloisi: Heart players their own biggest critics
John Aloisi said the biggest pressure for Melbourne Heart to perform is coming from within the team as the external spotlight on the embattled club intensifies.
The Heart have not won in six rounds this season, and showed a worrying lack of fight in their 2-0 defeat to Sydney FC last weekend.
Goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne on Thursday claimed the players remain confident in their abilities and are not feeling the effects of the intense glare of expectation coming from supporters and media alike.
But his coach saw it differently a day later, insisting the squad and backroom staff are desperate to get off the mark in 2013-14.
"Players and coaches put pressure on themselves," he said.
"They're the ones that put the most pressure. Players want to win. I see our players out in training when they lose just a three v three, what they feel like.
"They're angry. They go home pretty upset. They're not panicking because they know the way we can play, the players we've got, the players that we've still got to come in."
Aloisi said he was paying no attention to the growing uncertainty surrounding his own role at the club, and is putting his faith in the work ethic which had served him well to date throughout his career.
"All I can do is focus on my job at hand, and that's preparing the players to play against Newcastle and win the game against Newcastle," he said.
"I can't get caught up in speculation... or what people think about the situation. I've always worked hard as a player and now as a coach. And we're confident and positive that we can turn it around."
The Heart coach is not the only figure in the dressing room trying his best to improve morale, with senior players also attempting to encourage their struggling team-mates.
"Mas Murdocca brought up a great story of when he was at Brisbane," Aloisi said.
"They lost five on the trot and everyone was against them. Everyone said that was it, Brisbane are finished now, and they went on to win the title. And he said what they did, (was) they stuck together. They believed in what they were doing and they were fighting together.
"This is making our group stronger. Once we get through this, then our group will be stronger for it. That's the belief of the players. The players have trained as hard as ever and they're committed."
According to Aloisi, centre-back Patrick Kisnorbo is nearing full fitness and in contention to return to the starting XI for their clash with the Newcastle Jets on Sunday, but is no certainty to play this weekend, while captain and playmaker Harry Kewell remains sidelined.
Striker Michael Mifsud has returned from international duty with Malta and will travel with the squad to Newcastle as expected. Fit-again midfielder Andrea Migliorini could also feature at Hunter Stadium.