When a football team becomes stuck in a seemingly hopeless rut, it is a well worn cliche to talk of the 'catalyst' that might be needed to rescue their season. A refereeing mistake perhaps, or maybe even a freak goal off somebody's backside.
No Premier League club has been in more need of some sort of transformative moment this season than Queens Park Rangers and, bizarrely, it might just have arrived in the form of a newspaper article. 'Harry's stars in five day booze bender', was the headline that greeted Harry Redknapp yesterday on the morning of his 66th birthday. What followed was the allegation that QPR's recent trip to Dubai had been more "stag party" than training camp.
Those accusations have been angrily denied by Redknapp but the most eloquent answer was always going to be required on the football pitch. And with Christopher Samba, Robert Green, Jay Bothroyd and Loic Remy all outstanding, they duly delivered a performance to breathe some hope back into their season.
This was only their third victory of a torrid campaign but QPR are again within sight of their rivals at the bottom of the table, including Southampton. For Redknapp, victory was especially sweet after 90 minutes of almost continual abuse from home fans on what was his first match at St Mary's after leaving as manager in 2005.
He celebrated with a punch of the air and then, visibly furious, claimed that the club had been the victim of "lies" and a deliberate smear campaign. "I gave them one night they could go out in Dubai," he said. "The players asked me, they said 'we've got some new players, can we have a night out for a bit of bonding?' I was very anti it. I don't like footballers drinking. I spoke to Joe Jordan and Kevin Bond and said 'OK, do it one night'.
"They may have got drunk that one night. All I said to them was: 'Don't anyone be late tomorrow for training. The coach leaves at 8.30am and if you are not there you will be fined a week's wages'. Everyone was there so where is the problem?
"This story has come from someone who is trying to disrupt the football club. It's an agent. I know exactly who it is and I know his reasons. It's nonsense. I think there were six or seven teams out there in Dubai and we were the only team that trained every day. I had them on their knees."
Redknapp first became aware that the story was going to be published on Friday evening and immediately called the players together for a team meeting. He believes that it has now had a unifying impact on his squad.
"They were disgusted with the story," said Redknapp. "I said to them, 'you know what has been written. There is only one way to show people'."
QPR actually began on the back-foot yesterday before exploiting Southampton's high defensive line when Junior Hoilett played a long ball forward that exposed Danny Fox to a test of pace with Remy. There was to be only one winner, with Remy cutting inside and even having time to compose himself before shooting past Artur Boruc in the Southampton goal.
The goal had a visible impact on QPR's confidence and they actually dictated the tempo before being punished on the stroke of half-time for some profligate finishing. Jay Rodriguez's shot from just outside the penalty area was certainly powerful but aimed almost straight at Cesar, who could still only parry the ball into the path of Gaston Ramirez. Cesar tried to smoother the follow-up shot but, seeing the Brazilian at his feet, Ramirez produced a delightful chipped finish to bring Southampton back level.
The goal caused another swing in momentum, with Southampton dominant at the start of the second half before again succumbing on the counterattack. With Yoshida hesitant in possession, Ji Sung Park pounced to deliver a dangerous cross into the penalty area that was read perfectly by Bothroyd to finish well for his third goal in four games.
Green, who had replaced Cesar, then made an equally vital contribution to QPR's victory to deny Jose Fonte with a brilliant one-handed save. "Harry Redknapp, he's keeping us up", sang the QPR fans on the final whistle. "I might go to Dubai again next week," he said, smiling. Redknapp's birthday had certainly ended rather better than it began.
Southampton (4-2-3-1) Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Fox (Shaw 57); Puncheon, Ramirez (Ward-Prowse 74); Cork, Schneiderlin, Lallana (Rodriguez 43); Lambert. Subs Kelvin Davis, Steven Davis, Do Prado, Richardson. Booked Fonte.
QPR (4-2-3-1) Julio Cesar (Green 74); Bosingwa, Samba, Hill, Traore; Park, Granero (Jenas 53); Mbia, Hoilett, Bothroyd (Da Silva 90); Remy. Subs Taarabt, Mackie, Onuoha, Townsend. Booked Bothroyd, Mbia, Traore.
Referee H Webb (S Yorkshire).