Benitez/Grant may replace Chelsea’s RDM, West Ham want Becks, Henry loan to Arsenal mooted & Spurs’ £20m winter kitty

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “I’m responsible for the result. I’m responsible for the performance. It’s a negative evening for us. If anyone has to take the blame, it’s me. I selected a team I was convinced was the right team to win against Juventus, or get at least a draw, so the blame belongs to me.” – Roberto Di Matteo.

Runner-up: “I think City will be out. They can win but eight points is not enough, so City will be the big team to go.” – Jose Mourinho.

Juventus 3 – Chelsea 0 (Here Comes Rafa?)

The End (Shaun Custis, Sun) Roberto Di Matteo will be axed by Chelsea — it is just a question of when. SunSport understands the Blues have already approached former Liverpool chief Rafa Benitez as a possible temporary replacement. Boss Di Matteo will pay the price for dropping Fernando Torres for last night’s make-or-break clash against Juventus. And Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will step up his bid to land Barcelona legend Pep Guardiola as his team face a humiliating early exit from the Champions League.

Chelsea weigh up moves for Avram Grant and Rafael Benitez (Telegraph) [Avram] Grant is readily available and despite being sacked by Chelsea in 2008, when he took the club to the Champions League final, having amazingly succeeded Jose Mourinho, it is believed he would be keen to return.

Holders braced for new European low as Di Matteo faces chop (Mail) Di Matteo gambled big in Turin but the scoreline revealed a busted flush. By leaving out Fernando Torres, even with Daniel Sturridge injured, he had hoped to challenge Juventus with a fast-moving, flowing forward line, spearheaded by Eden Hazard. It failed.

Roberto Di Matteo’s gamble may open door to Pep Guardiola at Chelsea (Richard Williams, Guardian) Never mind the £50m misfit. When Chelsea needed to hold on to the ball and turn the tide in the second half, it was £80m worth of midfield artistry in the shape of Hazard, Mata and Oscar that virtually disappeared from the action – and Hazard whose failure to challenge Martín Cáceres led directly to the final goal for Sebastian Giovinco. This sudden and collective loss of dynamism among the glittering trio has not been an unfamiliar phenomenon in recent weeks, and it looks like being the first problem the next man will have to solve.

RDM = Rafa’s Da Man! Benitez lined up to replace Di Matteo after Chelsea’s humbling in Italy (Mail) Roberto di Matteo will pay for a crushing setback at Juventus last night, with Rafa Benitez lined up to replace him if Pep Guardiola refuses to take over at Chelsea before the summer.

Di Matteo’s reign going up in smoke as Chelsea are all too predictably beaten (Neil Ashton, Mail) They didn’t have the energy or the enthusiasm for another crack at the Champions League and that is why Di Matteo will ultimately be sacked.

Could this be the end for most successful caretaker manager in game’s history? (James Lawton, Independent) Chelsea are now at the mercy of other results and this is the fact that will surely determine the shape of Di Matteo’s future in the executive suite of Stamford Bridge. He is, let’s be practical about this, heading for the exit door which had beckoned strongly right up to the moment Bayern Munich were beaten in the Champions League final on their own home soil last spring.

‘Arry To The Ukraine?

Harry’s Ukraine talks (Sun) Harry Redknapp is seriously considering a mega-bucks deal to manage Ukraine — piling the pressure on QPR to make him an offer. The Ukrainians are ready to hand Redknapp a contract worth a minimum £6million with hefty bonuses on top. But the former Spurs boss is also favourite to take over at QPR if they axe Mark Hughes.

Redknapp emerges as shock No 1 target for Ukraine… but will he fancy stopping England qualifying for the World Cup? (Mail) Harry Redknapp has been offered the chance to shatter Roy Hodgson’s World Cup dream – six months after being overlooked for the England job.

The Most Hated Man In Football Today: Luiz Adriano

Shak attack for Luiz Adriano goal (Sun) Nordsjaelland sporting director Jan Laursen said: “I hope my boy was in bed by the time Shakhtar scored a goal of that character — that sort of thing doesn’t belong anywhere.”

Controversy! Shakhtar striker Luiz Adriano accused over unsporting goal in Denmark (Mail) ‘Their striker didn’t get it,’ Nordsjaelland captain Nicolai Stokholm said. ‘I looked down at my armband, and there’s something about respect – it has to be said we didn’t see much of that. We thought that they would give us a goal. Half their team seemed to think so too, but the other half didn’t.’

Wednesday Op-eds: Suarez & Carroll

Suarez is poetry in motion… but can he really be Player of the Year? (Martin Samuel, Mail) Could Luis Suarez be the Footballer of the Year this season? Of course not. Should Luis Suarez be the Footballer of the Year this season? Well, who else have you got?… Nobody can accurately evaluate Suarez’s worth to Liverpool this season but, ball-park, seven points sounds about right. Maybe more. Is there any footballer in the country more influential?

Without a league goal since April, can Carroll rediscover his golden touch at high-flying West Ham? (Mail) In six games without the striker this season, West Ham have won just two. One was the opening day victory against Aston Villa, the other a Capital One Cup win against Crewe. It’s a similar story for England. The Three Lions have won six of the nine games Carroll has been involved in and despite scoring just two goals in that time remains in Roy Hodgson’s plans. At a time when the national side is struggling for creativity, Carroll’s presence on the pitch potentially builds space for players like Theo Walcott and Wayne Rooney to exploit. But he also has the desired quality to show off his own contribution when needed – a factor that often caught out Emile Heskey when he played his own supporting role for Michael Owen at international level.

The Beckham ‘Where Will He Go’ Saga Begins

Beckham in £12m global tug of war (Sun) David Beckham is at the centre of a £12million global tug of war that could make him football’s highest paid player… Big-money clubs in China, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, America and France are now ready to break the bank to get the ex-England skipper. Chinese football giants Shanghai Shenhua are said to be willing to pay Becks more than £350,000 a week to uproot wife Victoria and family from LA. But they face competition from Aussie clubs Melbourne Hearts and Adelaide United, France’s Paris Saint-Germain, Brazil’s Botafogo, South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs and the New York Cosmos.

£20m final score: That’s how much David Beckham will earn for his ‘last challenge’ (Mirror) The veteran wants to be guaranteed first team football, even if it means heading to some of the games’ remoter outposts, such as China, Australia or Russia.

West Ham want to sign Beckham to help Olympic Stadium bid (Mirror) The Hammers tried to lure local boy Beckham to Upton Park two years ago and Gold said: “He was an ambassador for the London 2012 bid and it would be a fantastic statement if he came to us. He’s an East end boy and it would be a fitting end to his career. We’ve also been mindful of his value as an ambassador to help us secure the Olympic stadium.”

Non merci, Beckham! PSG chief Ancelotti denies move for outgoing LA Galaxy ace (Mail) Paris Saint-Germain have denied making an offer for David Beckham.

Did David Beckham transform MLS? (Graham Parker, Guardian) To shift from “How’s he doing?” to “How did he do?”, we might want to add the caveat that he might not be done in America yet. On the field, his team may be about to win back-to-back MLS Cups, and he’s played his part in that – no coincidence that their success coincides with his two most solid playing years here. Off the field, he clearly still feels the lure of America and his future may yet lie here. So far, he’s done fine.

Transfer Lies

Gunners want a Vermeer of respectability (Sun) Arsenal fancy a £5million move for Ajax keeper Kenneth Vermeer in the January window.

Thierry gives you hope, says Wenger as Arsenal manager eyes another loan deal (Mail) Arsene Wenger may bring Thierry Henry back to Arsenal for a third spell. The club’s all-time leading goalscorer has been training with the Gunners during the MLS off-season and Wenger said: ‘Will I sign him in January? I don’t rule it out. I don’t know if he would be interested. He is sharp. He has practised with us three times.’

Boro: We’ll wait for Stew (Sun) Middlesborough are ready to play the waiting game to bring Stewart Downing back to the Riverside. The England winger has been told he can quit Liverpool just 18 months after signing for £20million from Aston Villa.

Dan Swans Off (Sun) Swansea’s Danny Graham could be heading for the exit door with Norwich willing to pay £5million.

Villas-Boas to be handed £20m to pursue Willian, Moutinho, Dzagoev or Eriksen in January (Mail) Villas-Boas wants to sign a left-back, central attacking midfielder and a striker at the turn of the year, with Willian, Miralem Pjanic, Christian Eriksen, Alex Dzagoev and Joao Moutinho all on the hitlist.

Hughes looking to bolster QPR squad with FC Cluj winger Sougou as Swansea and Blackburn lurk (Mail) QPR have joined the chase for FC Cluj winger Modou Sougou and are watching Montpellier defender Mapou Yang-Mwiba.

Robert Earnshaw Discusses The War In Israel 

We were having a kickabout when a missile went off (Sun) Earnshaw, 31, said: “Life was good out here until the last few days. Now it’s very different. The first Hamas attack I experienced came while we were in the middle of a training session. We were just kicking a few balls around when the warning sirens suddenly went off. The foreign boys like me did not have a clue what was going on until the local Israeli boys were shouting and screaming at us, ‘Come in, come in, come in. You have to take shelter’. Apparently you’ve got about 60 seconds to take cover. When they tell you that — and you hear the word ‘missiles’ mentioned — you move pretty fast! I was just thinking, ‘My God, what’s happening here?’ Then literally 30-60 seconds after the sirens sounded there was a massive bang and an explosion. It really hit home that something major was going down. We were all wondering, ‘Was it a one-off or can we expect rockets and missiles raining down on us on a daily basis?’ The run to the nearby bunker was the quickest training run of the day and even a few of the local lads were scared, more because they wanted to contact their families and make sure they were safe. This is not a normal situation, even for Tel Aviv, and it isn’t easy getting used to bombs and rockets being fired off in your direction. It’s the first time in 21 years that Tel Aviv has been attacked, I’m just unfortunate to be around when it’s happened!”

England could be set to host Under 21 Euros in 2013 if crisis worsens in Israel (Mail) UEFA would consider asking England to be on stand-by to host next summer’s Under 21 European Championships if the Israel crisis escalates. The draw for Euro 2013 will be held in Tel Aviv next week and will be attended by a delegation from the FA which includes Under-21 head coach Stuart Pearce. If the worst case scenario develops, England could end up staging the eight-nation competition in June as they lost out to Israel in the initial bidding process.