Manuel PELLEGRINI must be more grateful than anyone that Sergio Aguero decided at the end of last week to stay at Manchester City - at least for the time being.
Without Aguero, it is likely City would have left Loftus Road without a goal, let alone a point, which was secured when the Argentinian scored the second of two superb solo strikes in the 83rd minute of a pulsating encounter.
Former City midfielder Joey Barton, who made his return from injury as a second-half substitute for Queens Park Rangers, was in no doubt about the importance of the striker.
"Without the little fella, we would have taken all three points," said Barton, who added that Pellegrini could never really relax, such was the weight of expectation.
"You are always only four or five results away from pressure. He won the league last year, but a couple of abject results and performances in Europe and all of a sudden he is under the cosh. This is the madness of the Premier League.
"That's what you live with, that expectation, with the money that is invested in the club. It sounds crazy to say this out loud, but winning the league is almost not good enough. You have to show progress in the Champions League and all competitions.
"They have the squad to compete on all fronts and are one of Europe's superclubs with the spending ability they have, so that's how they are going to judge themselves.
"They are not going to judge themselves against the likes of little old us. It's going to be against the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid. Everyone is aware they are struggling, but they are not out of it yet."
Saturday's brace brought Aguero's Premier League tally to 12 and he looks the leading contender to challenge Chelsea's Diego Costa for the Golden Boot.
But as for City actually winning anything, given their topsy-turvy form, that's another story.
Pellegrini's side are simply not consistent enough to retain their league title. There is also little chance of them contesting the business end of the Champions League.
City scarcely deserved their point at Loftus Road, where Aguero's individual brilliance merely highlighted the mediocrity of his team-mates.
After his team were outplayed by brave and vibrant Rangers, Pellegrini said: "Sergio is fantastic. He scored two goals, might have had more and it was a great performance by him.
"What he needs now is for the performance of the whole team to grow again in the same way we normally play and I am sure this will happen after the international break."
Aguero drew his side level after the excellent Charlie Austin's opener by plucking an Eliaquim Mangala ball out of the sky before weaving past Steven Caulker and sliding a shot past Rob Green.
The goal prompted a heated protest by Green, who insisted Aguero had handled the ball, while the striker might also have been offside. Replays, however, suggested that the referee got it right.
Aguero's second was carbon-copy technique in controlling Yaya Touré's lofted pass and this time bamboozling Richard Dunne before firing his shot past Green with seven minutes left.
City saw Dunne and Caulker clear the ball off the line from Aguero and substitute James Milner respectively, but this was still QPR's game.
They defied their lowly position to be positive from the start and Rangers might have won on another day.
England manager Roy Hodgson was there to watch Austin in particular, and the striker showed how far he had come from his non-league days by causing City's multi-million pound defence all sorts of problems.
Austin headed their 21st-minute opener - his sixth this season - and unleashed the 76th-minute cross from which Martin Demichelis headed an own goal.
He also forced a fabulous first-half save from Joe Hart and so nearly turned in Eduardo Vargas' 63rd-minute volley.
Austin also had two disallowed goals, one for offside and another after Hart double-touched in taking a free-kick.
The unrealistic talk is of an England call-up. But QPR manager Harry Redknapp said: "Charlie is a fantastic boy, someone who really appreciates being a footballer. Roy Hodgson will see him but he must keep scoring to push himself into the picture."
Redknapp is optimistic that his QPR side can climb away from the relegation zone now that the players brought in this summer are firing on all cylinders.
"We are looking like a proper team now, and there is a good spirit around the place" said Redknapp.
"There's a long way to go but I think we'll be OK." (© Daily Telegraph, London)