AN EMOTIONAL John Aloisi praised his players for 'showing what they were made of' in a 3-3 draw with Adelaide, but flatly denied suggestions the performance had saved him from the sack.
Heart fought back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 against the Reds at AAMI Park on Sunday, before conceding to settle for a point and remain winless after eight matches of the 2013-14 A-League season.
While their results have been largely forgettable so far this term, few can question the spirit of the Heart players, some of whom ran to embrace Aloisi after Andrea Migliorini's stunning strike sparked the home team's fight-back.
Facing the media after the game, Aloisi revealed what he told his players at half-time to inspire their dramatic recovery.
"I said, 'once we score, you wait and see the crowd get behind you. Let's show what we're made of. This is where you show what type of person you are. You don't give up. Let's make sure we give everything in the second half.' And I loved the reaction from the players."
When asked if he felt at half-time that he might be about to spend his last 45 minutes as Heart coach, Aloisi was unequivocal in his response: "No."
"What I thought at half-time was 'let's get this right.' I think you know me well enough to know that I'll never give up. I'll fight and that's what I want from my players.
The former Socceroos striker celebrated his team's equaliser on the touchline as wildly as any of his own famous strikes, before applauding the crowd and thumping his chest in front of the stands at the final whistle.
"I wanted to thank them ... it's a difficult time for them," he said of the very public display at the end of the contest.
"I understand that. They don't want to be down the bottom, they don't want to be losing. They want to be successful and so do we. I just wanted to show that we've got that connection. Players, coaches, board - with the supporters. We're in it together. I hope they know that.
"I know they had a silent protest in the first half but in the second half they did not stop. They just kept on growing and growing and I wanted to thank them for it.
"I've been here since day one. This club means a lot to me. And they need to know that. We're working hard to get through this difficult time."