It was Harry Redknapp's birthday, Queens Park Rangers had just snatched an improbable victory and he had got one over on his old club; but he was still unhappy. He did not look in the mood to celebrate, rather he looked as if he was ready for a fight as he railed against what he claimed was a fabricated story in Saturday's papers about his players spending a recent trip to Dubai boozing and partying. His face was verging on purple and his voice crackled with anger as he defended his squad's conduct and spoke of an unnamed agent whose only desire was to "disrupt" QPR.
Whatever the truth, it seemed to have a galvanising effect on QPR during their victory at Southampton, although nothing would have been quite as disruptive as losing the outstanding Christopher Samba before the closure of the Russian transfer window last week. Here was another Redknapp line: the revelation that QPR had rebuffed a "massive offer" from a Russian club, a mere month after the defender had moved to Loftus Road from Anzhi Makhachkala for £12m.
"We had an offer for Samba right on the deadline and the chairman turned it down," Redknapp said. "It was more money than we paid for him, to go back to Russia – a massive offer. This week just gone, the window was still open.
" The chairman said to me 'What do you think?' I said 'Listen, it's up to you, it's your club, it's not a problem if you have to.' It was a real good offer. Whether he would have gone back I don't know. I left it to the chairman."
Taking Redknapp's comments at face value, it was just as well Samba stayed. He was instrumental at St Mary's, winning everything in the air and dominating Rickie Lambert, and he was helped by a fine screening performance from Stéphane Mbia in front of him. Southampton's threat was easily snuffed out and Gaston Ramírez's goal in first-half stoppage-time was handed to him on a silver plate by Julio César, who had spilled a shot from Jay Rodriguez.
QPR had to fight for their third win of the season and, although they are four points behind Wigan Athletic in 17th place, their next four games are against Sunderland, Fulham, Aston Villa and Wigan. Redknapp is not getting carried away, though. "We have not had back-to-back wins since … when was it, just before World War One I think," he said.
It is not quite that long but QPR have not managed consecutive wins in the league since March 2011, when they were in the Championship. If that sorry sequence is to be ended, they require more performances of this quality from such as Junior Hoilett, who created Loïc Rémy's early goal, and the much-maligned Park Ji-sung, whose persistence led to Jay Bothroyd's late winner.
Then, when Southampton pressed for an equaliser, Maya Yoshida was denied by a superb save from Robert Green, who had replaced Julio César after the Brazilian goalkeeper went off with a groin injury. "He made a great save," Redknapp said. "To come off the bench stone cold, he did well. He's an England goalkeeper, isn't he? He is a proper goalkeeper, he is not a fool. You are talking about a top-class goalkeeper and it was a world-class save."
Southampton seemed unable to cope with the expectation caused by beating Manchester City three weeks ago. José Fonte admitted they were flat and the defender blamed a lack of movement from the side's attackers, not that the defence covered itself in any glory. Mauricio Pochettino has been praised since replacing Nigel Adkins in January but Southampton have won only once since then and are three points above the bottom three.
"We know which position we are in," Fonte said. "We are in a battle with the other teams and know we need points. What's the point in dominating games and not winning, not taking points?" There are no prizes for the right answer.
Man of the match: Christopher Samba (QPR)
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