A YEAR is a long time in sport – take the current state of England’s football and rugby teams.

Twelve months ago both sides were in rude health – now their performances are . . . well just rude.

Eddie Jones’ men went into the Six Nations as one of the favourites but endured their worst campaign in 31 years. They were dethroned, stripped of their title and finished a frankly frightful fifth in the table.

Ireland were deserved Grand Slam winners, while the wheels well and truly fell off Jones’ chariot.

The Red Rose only scored five points more than bottom-placed Italy who did not have the luxury of playing themselves; they lost three games in a row and ended the tournament with a limp 24-15 defeat on their own turf against the triumphant Irish.

Fans were bamboozled by England’s poor effort, which left them feeling more confused than a chameleon in a bag of skittles.

Head coach Jones now has a massive task of rebuilding confidence ahead of the three-Test summer series against South Africa.

Also low on pluck are the international stars that play with the round ball. Wind back time and things were looking rosy in the English garden.

We had one of the best strikers in the world in Harry Kane, two of the game’s most exciting young talents in Marcus Rashford and Dele Alli plus five strong contenders for the No 1 spot.

Now Kane has fallen foul of the injury curse that befalls England’s best player as a big tournament looms, while Rashford and Alli have flattered to deceive for large parts of this campaign, scoring just four Premier League goals BETWEEN them in 2018.

Last year Joe Hart was playing regularly on loan at Torino, Fraser Forster looked a giant in goal for Southampton, Tom Heaton was solid if not spectacular and the emergence of Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford lulled us into thinking we were in a golden era for glovemen.

Fast forward and Hart and Forster have endured nightmare seasons, losing their starting places at West Ham and Southampton respectively; young Butland and Pickford have made some high-profile howlers and Heaton has had five months out with a shoulder injury.

The England goalkeeping situation has led boss Gareth Southgate to call up Nick Pope who has shone at Burnley in Heaton’s absence. It would be madness if he doesn’t get a chance to stake a claim in the upcoming friendlies with Holland and Italy as he the man in form.

Hart, 30, was first-choice in nine out of the 10 qualifying games but the thought of him starting in Russia this summer is as a scary as when your mum used to call you by your full name when you were a kid.

AND finally we can’t ignore this week’s massive Mourinho meltdown.

After crashing out of the Champions League to unfancied Sevilla, the Manchester United manager made a 12-minute self-pitying speech.

My main gripe was that to justify his failure and smooth his own out-of-control ego Jose labelled England’s biggest club minnows – ‘not one of the top teams, not one of the favourites to win’.

Forget 1968 and being the first English side to lift old Big-Ears, forget the breath-taking last minute comeback to complete the treble in 1999 and making John Terry cry in Moscow in 2008. No apparently the Red Devils are lacking in ‘football heritage’.

He disrespected our nation’s second most successful European powerhouse and told fans that despite him spending £300m in two years they should not expect more glorious nights in the biggest club competition in world football.

Sorry Jose, I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and pass a smarter statement than that.

Tweet @BabsDouglasBP

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