OUR 2019 diaries are now being used but at the Dragons' Ystrad Mynach training base there is an inability to plan too far ahead.

The boss' desk is empty while a permanent replacement for Bernard Jackman is hunted and a glut of players still don't know where they will be heading for pre-season training when contracts expire.

The Dragons are in limbo and a great deal depends on the big changes that are coming in Welsh rugby, and one can't help but be fearful for what 'Project Reset' might entail in the east.

There isn't enough money in the pot. The Welsh Rugby Union isn't awash with cash and the regions are attempting to thrash out a fresh deal, the Professional Rugby Agreement, about how the funds are divvied up a year ahead of the expiry of the current Rugby Services Agreement.

The Rodney Parade region have always lagged behind their three rivals and nothing is likely to change with potential revenue from a development of the north end of the site years off.

In fact, they are braced to cost-cut and their meagre budget is already considerably lower than those at the Arms Park, Liberty Stadium and Parc y Scarlets.

The Dragons have gone from thinking about bringing in an experienced fly-half to push on – at a time when Rhys Priestland is on the market – to attempting to tread water.

It's all very depressing given that in the summer of 2017 there was excited talk about three-year plans and closing the gap to Cardiff Blues, the Ospreys and Scarlets.

When the WRU took over there was relief mixed with apprehension about what lay ahead.

Jackman was swiftly appointed and the former Ireland hooker spoke enthusiastically about what he could achieve at Rodney Parade.

For whatever reason, he divided opinion from the moment he arrived.

Perhaps because it was a tense time so soon after the vote over Newport selling their historic home and the WRU chopping off two thirds of the Dragons' name.

Maybe it was just that he overdid the ambition and ventured into a spot of hyperbole.

In diving into embracing the future, Jackman managed to rub up the wrong way some of those who were understandably still smarting about how things had unfolded.

Some of the words used by Jackman after the WRU's dropping of 'Newport' and 'Gwent' didn't help – "there has been a huge rivalry in Gwent, and then you ask people to support what seems to be something that you usually hate, and I understand that" – and there were plenty of people waiting for the chance to stick the boot in.

That has come courtesy of results with the Dragons making little progress since Kingsley Jones, who had to hold things together amid all the takeover talk and doom mongering, was shown the door.

Those poor results led to Jackman getting the boot, prompting more glee from some cruel folk on social media and in comments sections.

There was more derision when the former boss spoke to RTE, who he works for as a summariser, about his work at Rodney Parade.

"It was a rebuild project and it is still in a rebuild phase, but it is in a much better place than when I got it," he said. "I'm confident the right structures are in place"

There are those that would call the above statement codswallop and question if Jackman achieved anything during his 18 months in Newport.

But it is telling that the likes of Cory Hill, a man who has got used to high standards in Warren Gatland's Test camp, speak highly of their old boss.

I believe that Jackman did make some important changes to the mentality and structure of the region that ordinarily would have left the next man in the hotseat in a better position.

But the changes that are coming will put that good work at risk; rather than closing the gap to those to the west there is the reality of the Dragons being in a system that will keep them bottom of the pile.

They are already something of a development region, reliant on homegrown talent and at risk of their local lads moving on once they have made an impression on the Test stage.

There will be Dragons players named in Warren Gatland's squad next week who are good enough to be aiming for titles, playoff and top-tier rugby rather than merely aiming to be competitive.

We have been encouraged by the strides made over the past month when Hill & Co battled in defeat against the Blues and Scarlets either side of the tense victory against the Ospreys.

Perhaps this is as good as it can get, pushing Welsh rivals hard and enjoying the occasional moment in the sun.

The Dragons' history means that frankly they can have few complaints if they are downgraded after over a decade of disappointments.

And those supporters that were imploring Newport shareholders to vote yes in order to keep professional rugby alive in these parts cannot throw their toys out of the pram.

The development region scenario was always a possibility when Black and Ambers diehards were being urged to give the green light so that everyone could survive.

Existing was all that mattered to Dragons supporters back then but suddenly it's not so palatable when there is the prospect of being treated differently to their rivals to the west.

But whatever happens over the coming days, weeks and months, it's unlikely that Jackman's successor will be matching his 2017 goals about where the region could get to, let alone Lyn Jones' lofty (too lofty) 2014 ambition about being Wales' top dogs.