Redknapp: Japan trip will hit Man Utd’s title challenge

The former Pompey boss said in his column in the Sun: “Manchester United do not concede many own goals — but I fear the Club World Cup in Japan is a big one.

“Deep down, Alex Ferguson will not be happy about it.

“Just as we enter a critical period of the season with the Christmas fixture pile-up, United head off for a SIX-DAY tournament in the Far East.

“Boardroom ruling bootroom again but it is the price big clubs are paying in the modern game.”

He continued: “For Alex it is Catch 22. He wants the best players in his team. To do that he must be able to offer some of the biggest wages in the business.

“And to do that, United’s ‘brand’ has to be continually pumped and milked like a cash cow.

“So off he goes to Japan to play the mighty Gamba Osaka on Thursday in the semi-finals.

“No one gives a toss, except those ringing the tills at Old Trafford.

“But it is the world we are in.

“However, should the effects of jet-lag, travelling, different climate, different continent, different time zone and 12 days out of the loop in England kick in, then it could be a high price they end up paying.

“The United players will be more prone to injury after such a long haul, thanks to fatigue and adjusting to the eight-hour time difference.

“United could be nine points down on leaders Liverpool when they return, with a game on Boxing Day against Stoke — a team who hunt down the opposition with physical strength a major weapon in their armoury.

“Great when you have only just stepp- ed off a plane after a 6,000-mile flight, blinking into the December daylight.

“It’s an old saying, but points on the board are much better than games in hand — and that applies even to mighty Man United, champions of England and Europe.”