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Just Imagine

Milan in a mess

  • Story Highlights
  • AC Milan won last year's Champion's League, but crashed out early this year
  • They are also failing domestically, may miss next season's Champion's League
  • Problems stem from an ageing squad and under-performing forwards
  • Solutions could come from transfer market and Mourinho as new manager
  • Next Article in World Sport »
By CNN's Pedro Pinto
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- As we focus our attention on the Champions League Quarter Finals, which will be decided over the next week, it would be an opportune time to look at what is going on with the team who won the competition last season.

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A poor season means, though they are current holders, AC Milan may not qualify for the next Champions League.

Am I the only who is shocked about AC Milan's collapse? People say the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and the Rossoneri have really fallen hard this year.

Right now, Carlo Ancelotti's team is 20 (!) points behind Serie A leaders Inter and runs the risk of missing out on the Champions League for the first time since 2001/2002.

Milan have lost eight matches in the league already, the most defeats suffered since 2003 (that season they won the European Cup).

As far as their performance in Europe is concerned, they went out with a whimper against a harder, faster and younger Arsenal side. Is it the end of an era? I definitely think so.

So who or what is to blame? Let's start with what. Age is definitely a factor to look at. The average age of the Milan first XI this season has been 30 years and one month. You have Paolo Maldini, who is 39, Zeljko Kalac who is 35, Pippo Inzaghi who is 34, and the rest of the players aren't much younger than that. Alexandre Pato is by far the baby of the team -- the Brazilian forward recently turned 18.

The who element is also interesting to examine. A lot of people blame Ancelotti, and he is an easy target, but I would point my finger at the team's forwards.

Alberto Gilardino has once again been a huge disappointment with only nine goals in 37 appearances; Inzaghi is old, lives off-side and is too irregular; Ronaldo has been injured (surprise, surprise) and Pato is still too immature to rely on.

So what is the solution? A Revoluzione! Maldini will retire, and I would get rid of some of the squad's seniors and also the underachievers. Kalac, Dida, Inzaghi, Giuseppe Favalli, Emerson, Christian Brocchi, Serginho and Ibrahim Ba would all have to pack their bags.

I would then go into the transfer market and sign at least a couple of good forwards (Didier Drogba and Goran Pandev?), a good goalkeeper and some players to cover in midfield and defense.

The best man to get the job done? One Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese manager has been linked with Inter, but he would have a real challenge on his hands with the Rossoneri.

He would be charged with reviving the club's domestic ambitions, and in three or four years, could try to tie Real Madrid's record of nine European Cup titles. Milan are on seven right now. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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