I AM a sporting pessimist.

On Sunday the hapless football club that I support will be knocked out of the FA Cup by the team I loathe, a horrible lot that are going to win the league.

Later this year I am certain that the rugby club where I watched from the terrace as a young lad, who have provided so many wonderful highs, are going to be relegated.

My county cricket club? Dire. My NFL team? They managed to outdo Devon Loch with a remarkable Super Bowl collapse. I don't like golf but if I did then no doubt I would have picked Jean van de Velde as my favourite.

When things are going well it is in my nature to expect them to unravel, especially if the next opponent is described as a crisis club.

Perhaps it's this trait that make me fearful for what is to come at Rodney Parade on Saturday. The Dragons are making progress, the Ospreys are a rabble… what could possibly go wrong?

But Dean Ryan's approach has been right all season long, we can't afford to swing from high to low depending on the scoreboard on any given weekend.

The Dragons are building from a low point and we have already seen that they have howlers in them.

South Wales Argus:

November's loss to Zebre, who hadn't won in 2019, was as bad as anything we have seen in recent years while in October Connacht did a complete demolition job in Newport.

Be encouraged in the first half of the campaign by all means, but be cautious as well and avoid wild declarations of the region finally being on the up and that professional rugby is stirring in the east.

Our eyes give reason for some optimism – the Dragons have been tenacious and organised – but the statistics should stop anybody from getting carried away.

It should be remembered that the Dragons started 2019 with four wins to their name from 12 fixtures in the PRO14 after caretaker boss Ceri Jones was at the helm for the stirring win against the Ospreys. Ryan starts 2020 with the same 33 per cent ratio of three from nine.

The new boss' record of six successes from 13 games is helped by a much, much kinder European group that contains Castres and Worcester rather than Clermont Auvergne and Northampton.

The Dragons ended last season cut adrift with the PRO14's worst teams – the Southern Kings and Zebre. The trio are still bringing up the rear, albeit three has become four with the surprise descent of the Ospreys.

The Rodney Parade region are currently ranked 11th out of 14 and if they finish in that position, and enjoy a rare season without being Wales' worst, then it will be a job well done.

Win this weekend and the Dragons will be at least nine points clear of the Ospreys just shy of halfway. Staying clear of the Swansea side will be gettable, but the Scarlets and Cardiff Blues will still probably finish off in the distance.

Expectations are relative, what Leinster and Munster supporters hope for and demand is wildly different to the wishes of the Dragons and Zebre fans.

South Wales Argus:

In this neck of the woods the desire was a team that is competitive rather than being cannon fodder and that box has been ticked so far, which provides a foundation to grow from.

Some have jumped the gun in declaring a resurgence at Rodney Parade but the signs are encouraging.

In Ryan they have a boss who has real clout and who has given them a real sense of direction. There are shades of Richard Cockerill at Edinburgh; work hard and nail the non-negotiables.

The Dragons look well organised, both on the field and in training at Ystrad Mynach, and are making progress as a team and individually.

Ryan is slowly but surely shaping his backroom team with Simon Cross in particular doing a fine job, even if the defence coach isn't a permanent member of staff and therefore isn't listed on the management page of the website.

The Dragons are in a position where they can name a strong XV and their youth gives reason to hope for greater squad depth in years to come.

Ryan can bolster that with some canny work in the transfer market and his sales pitch is helped by the names of Aaron Wainwright, Elliot Dee, Sam Davies, Leon Brown, Ashton Hewitt, Ollie Griffiths – players whose best years are ahead of them.

There are still bumps ahead in the new boss' first season and the Zebre game shows us that the Six Nations period will be testing, with home fixtures against Benetton and the Cheetahs either side of a trip to Glasgow.

But the clarity and calmness of the man calling the shots gives reason to believe that more slow and steady progress can be made.