Paul Warne revealed how he used a family photograph to motivate his Rotherham United players before the South Yorkshire derby showdown against Sheffield Wednesday
The Millers suffered Hillsborough heartache, losing 1-0 in the dying seconds to a penalty that was hotly disputed.
But the Championship’s bottom club left S6 with their heads held high as they pushed the promotion-chasing Owls all the way with a brave, committed performance which deserved a point.
Caretaker boss Warne, taking charge of his fourth match, said: “I am a pretty positive guy. I am all about psychology and the players and wanting them to play for each other and themselves.
“In the pre-match meeting, I showed them a photo of my wife and kids and said: ‘That’s why I do it and that you have to dig deep in terms of why you want to do it.’”
The interim manager has united the club after the disastrous spells of previous bosses Alan Stubbs and Kenny Jackett. He has got the best out of his squad, winning one of his four matches and losing the other three by a single goal, and is now set for an extended stay in the hot-seat.
“The players are good people and I think that they have done well in the our games,” he said.
“I think they have given their job lot and the fans appreciate what they have done. Unfortunately, at the moment - it is my fault and I take the blame - we haven’t quite been good enough to put that into points.
“You ask my kids, I love to shout. But I have nothing negative to say to my players. I love them like my kids. No that’s a bit extreme, I like them!
Centre-half Richard Wood was sent off after the penalty incident, when he was judged by referee Tim Robinson to have brought down Lucas Joao.
There is every chance the club will appeal as TV footage appeared to show there was no infringement.
Meanwhile, Warne says that attacker Izzy Brown, who missed Saturday’s clash with a hamstring problem sustained last week at Fulham, should be fit for the festive schedule.
“He came into my office on Thursday and said ‘I want to play but I don’t think I can give 100 per cent and do the job for you’,” Warne said.
“He had a scan at 4pm. I got the news at 6pm that he had a grade-one tear and he could potentially play with that. But that is not the sort of bloke I am, to risk his future health for one game.
“I could have him for one game, lose him after 10 minutes and then not have him again for five weeks. Luckily, he is only missing for a week, so I will have him for the next two home games, which are big games for us.
The Millers are at home to Wigan Athletic on Boxing Day, then have have a New York Stadium fixture with Burton Albion on December 29 before travelling to Leeds United on January 2.
Peter Odemwingie came in for Brown and Warne added: “If Izzy had played, I don’t think the game would have been very different. That is my honest opinion.”