Surely no one would begrudge QPR's players a drink or two after this. Their supporters had woken up to damaging headlines on Saturday morning about tales of players going out drinking during a recent trip to Dubai and it had seemed that theirs was a squad on the brink of civil war; yet there was a unity in this victory over Southampton that has rarely been evident this season and that made a mockery of their position at the bottom of the table.
QPR should not crack open the champagne yet. This was, after all, only their third victory of what has been an awful season, and there is still plenty of work to do, but Harry Redknapp, who could hardly have asked for a better 66th birthday on his return to St Mary's, will look at forthcoming fixtures against Sunderland, Aston Villa, Fulham and Wigan and believe that he can pull off an escape act similar to the one he inspired at Portsmouth in 2006.
Southampton's fans arrived eager to torture Redknapp, who was their manager when they were relegated in 2005 and left for Portsmouth a few months later. But in the end their anger was directed at a desperately lethargic performance from their own side, who gave Mauricio Pochettino little to celebrate on his 41st birthday. Victory for Southampton would have lifted them to 30 points but they are not safe yet.
The boos for Redknapp were loud and predictable when he strolled out of the tunnel before kick-off and it was 10 minutes before he stepped out of the dugout and into the technical area. This is the kind of boos problem he can deal with, though, and four minutes later his side led. Redknapp had spoken during the week of his need to give Junior Hoilett more games and the winger rewarded his manager's faith in him by creating QPR's opener.
From the left, Hoilett drifted a lovely, diagonal ball towards Loïc Rémy, who had peeled away from Maya Yoshida and Daniel Fox. With Artur Boruc's positioning offering Rémy a sizeable portion of the goal to aim at, the Frenchman clipped a right-footed shot past the keeper, beating Fox on the line.
It was Rémy's second goal for QPR since his £8m move from Marseille and he nearly had his third minutes later when he tested Boruc from the edge of the area. Southampton were strangely muted, playing with none of the urgency they showed in beating Manchester City here three weeks ago, and for all the plaudits Pochettino has received since replacing Nigel Adkins in January, his side has won only once. "We were not expecting a result like that but we must learn from our mistakes," he said. "Perhaps the team didn't have the fluidity in other games.
"When we go one goal down we didn't have the calm to push forward. What's clear to me is we need to work on the confidence of the team because today was a game we had to win. The team knew what was at stake."
Southampton were gifted a way back into the match in first-half stoppage time when Jay Rodriguez, who had just replaced the injured Adam Lallana, shot from 25 yards out. It was a tame effort, but Júlio César made a mess of it, allowing Gaston Ramírez to nip in and delicately dink the rebound over him.
From there, QPR might have crumbled, and Rodriguez and José Fonte went close with efforts from distance. The visitors' plans were further thrown into disarray when Robert Green replaced the injured César but, with Christopher Samba and Stéphane Mbia outstanding, their defence stood firm.
Then, with 13 minutes remaining, QPR pounced. Yoshida was far too meek in a challenge with Park Ji-sung on the right and the midfielder's low cross was converted by Jay Bothroyd from close range.
Southampton were stunned, but pushed forward in search of a second equaliser and thought one had arrived when Fonte met a corner with a powerful header. Somehow Green clawed it away. Six minutes of stoppage time followed but Southampton's threat had disappeared and when Howard Webb's final whistle blew at last, there was Redknapp on the pitch, pumping his fists in the direction of the QPR supporters. "I might go to Dubai again this week," he said. "It might be a good idea."