Catalans Dragons - founded in 2000 - have been a Super League side since 2006. In that time, the club has grown both on and off the field to the extent that the Dragons are widely thought of a top eight club that should be challenging for a top four position. Even more impressively, Catalans, since their disappointing bottom-placed finish in their first season in the top flight in 2006, have made the play-offs eight times.

To put this in perspective, the Dragons have finished in the play-offs eight times out of 12 - a feat that any potential expansion side would be envious of. But, in 2017, the French side finished tenth - their lowest position since 2010 when they finished bottom.

And, with the Dragons again faltering in 2018 with no wins from their opening four matches, the rot seems to be firmly setting in.

Managerial appointments

In 2008 when the Dragons reached the lofty heights of third - their highest ever Super League position - Mick Potter was the head coach. Named Coach of the Year for the 2008 season, Potter was integral in transforming Catalans from a team that had finished tenth in 2007 and 12th (last) in 2006 to a team that needed to be taken seriously. Since then, an array of coaching talent has led the French club; Trent Robinson established the Dragons as a top-eight side in 2011 and 2012, whilst native Frenchman and former Catalans player Laurent Frayssinous led the club to four top-eight finishes in his first four seasons.

Yet, with things seemingly going stale in his final year at the club - indeed, the Dragons would go on to finish outside the top eight for the first time in seven years - Frayssinous found himself out of a job in late May 2017.

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Then, in a bizarre managerial move, outspoken owner and chairman Bernard Guasch hired former England boss Steve McNamara in June. McNamara was barely able to turn things around as the Dragons survived in Super League by the skin of their teeth following a 10-26 victory over Leigh in the infamous Million Pound Game.

McNamara has hardly fared better in 2018 either. With four losses in as many games and with the Dragons looking devoid of ideas and organisation in their defeats so far, Guasch's appointment appears to have well and truly backfired. Usually, there is a 'bounce' when a new head coach comes to town, but McNamara led his side to just one win from five before the Super 8s split in 2017. And, the Dragons' dreadful end-of-season form has been replicated in 2018, with no points from a possible six.

Yes, a large amount of the Catalans side made up the French team in the recent World Cup, but that is no excuse for the distinct lack of passion in the once fiery underbelly of the Catalans players.

Another bottom four finish - which looks increasingly likely as the season wears on, especially if McNamara is still in charge - could be disastrous not just for the French club, but for the game as a whole; finally, the sport's governing body had an expansionist project that worked, but this success could slowly be slipping away.

Recruitment failures

Whilst the recent coaching appointment has done little to raise Dragons' fans hopes, the club's recent recruitment on the field has hardly been anything to write home about either. Although the club captured impressive full-back David Mead and talented hooker Michael McIlorum, other new signings Benjamin Jullien, Samisoni Langi, Lewis Tierney and Antoni Maria are uninspiring to say the least. Add into the mix the high-profile players that have come to Stade Gilbert Brutus in recent years for one last pay-day - the one-time NRL superstar Greg Bird for example - and the Dragons are seemingly overspending for very little gain.

The likes of Bradford have followed this route in the past. In 2010, the Bulls brought over NRL stars Matt Orford and Glenn Hall, but neither flourished in West Yorkshire and both failed to have the impact expected of them. The failure to reach that year's play-offs - for the second season running - accelerated the downwards spiral and by 2011, the club was forced to enter administration. Though the club - like Catalans - never gave much away publicly about off-field issues, behind closed doors, the club were struggling to survive from one day to the next.

And, just like Bradford, Catalans have a very healthy home support - over 8,000 spectators turned out for their round two match against St Helens. But, with the Bulls' slow demise came a steady dwindling of support too. Just a few hundred absent turned into thousands and now, in League 1, Bradford attract about a fifth of the support they once commanded in the Super League. If results do not come sooner rather than later, there is nothing to say that the Dragons' faithful may also vote with their feet.

Another year of disappointment?

Now, the Catalans' owner Bernard Guasch, appears as though he is in it for the long haul, having been the owner since the Dragons' formation in the early 2000s. Yet, he is adamant that the Dragons should be a play-off-hunting side - something which cannot be said at present. Surely there comes a time though, if things aren't working out and haven't been for a few years, to feel that one's own money would be used better elsewhere.

Owner of a large meat company in Perpignan, Guasch, by bankrolling the Dragons in an attempt to become a consistent top-four side, may just be biting off more than he can chew. The price of spending to acquire success is great - just ask Bradford - and another season in the doldrums with McNamara at the helm - ironically the coach that was in charge of the worst losing streak at Bradford for 20 years - and the only successful Super League expansion side could lose its way in the game.