Harry Redknapp could have seen it coming. It is 14 years since he gave Joe Cole his professional debut for West Ham and he was frustrated in his attempts to bring him to Loftus Road this month, so there was an inevitability that the former Liverpool midfielder would score the equaliser that prevented QPR from snatching an improbable and invaluable victory. QPR remain four points adrift at the bottom of the table, but at least Redknapp could bask in the satisfaction of a goal on his debut for Loïc Rémy after his £8m arrival from Marseille.
While QPR were fortunate to escape with a point and were indebted to the brilliance of their goalkeeper, Júlio César, Redknapp will still see reasons for optimism. Three weeks ago QPR looked done for after a 3-0 humiliation at home to Liverpool, but since then they have enjoyed an unlikely resurgence, winning at Chelsea and drawing with Tottenham, and this draw stretched their unbeaten run to five matches in all competitions.
Whereas QPR were once a soft touch, they are finally playing as a team and can also count on a touch of class in attack. Rémy was ridiculed for his decision to join QPR instead of Newcastle, raising eyebrows by claiming that he was attracted by the challenge of saving his new side rather than the reported £75,000 a week they are paying him.
Talk is cheap, however, and there is only one way for Rémy to silence his critics. On a bitterly cold afternoon in east London, he did not freeze on his big day and needed only 14 minutes to make his mark. There are already signs of a potentially fruitful partnership with Adel Taarabt, and when the Moroccan slipped him in behind Winston Reid, he took a moment to compose himself before beating Jussi Jaaskelainen from the edge of the area.
"He will do that," said Redknapp. "He's got great movement off the ball. He's got lightning pace. He will score goals. I thought him and Taarabt were going to do some damage but we came under the cosh. We have to try to play with a bit more quality. You have to be bold and keep the ball. You can't just keep kicking the ball back."
Sam Allardyce was upset that his side had fallen for QPR's rather obvious plan to hurt them on the break but they should have rectified such negligence long before Joe Cole levelled the game after 68 minutes.
West Ham started brightly and César made superb reaction saves from Reid and Kevin Nolan early on. He would later make a fine save to deny Joe Cole, and twice kept out headers from Marouane Chamakh. "It's our achilles heel," Allardyce said. "Our front men don't score enough to win us games."
West Ham might have also had a penalty when Clint Hill pulled off his best Laurent Koscielny impression as Chamakh turned in the area, before the Moroccan striker made the most of minimal contact with Shaun Wright-Phillips. "Looking at the replay it looks like Howard Webb's not in a great position to see it," Allardyce said.
In the end, he was grateful for Joe Cole's intervention. Carlton Cole had only been on the pitch for six minutes when he met Matt Jarvis's cross with a downward header. César saved again but Joe Cole was on hand to tap home the rebound. It was his first goal for West Ham since 11 January 2003.
From there, West Ham should have won but Stéphane M'bia blocked Reid's goalbound volley and Fábio da Silva cleared off the line from Joe Cole. "It was a point gained," Redknapp said. "I can't say we deserved to win. That would be nonsense."