The outgoing Al Wahda coach Branko Ivankovic cited injuries as a reason for his dismissal by the Abu Dhabi club last week, with three games to go.
The Croatian has a point. Wahda have been hurt, with the likes of Hamdan Al Kamali, Mohammed Al Shehhi and Ismail Matar missing long spells. And in a league where a club's foreign players are so important, Wahda's main summer signing, the Gabon forward Eric Mouloungui, has barely played a game due to an ankle injury.
It was an unfortunate situation for Ivankovic, but it shows that whoever replaces the temporary coach, Josef Hickersberger, next season has the nucleus of a squad that could challenge further up the table.
Al Kamali, Matar and Saeed Al Kathiri are all UAE regulars, while Al Shehhi, still only 25, has 57 caps.
Throw in a fully fit Mouloungui, the Senegalese forward Papa Waigo and the tireless Serbian midfielder Srdan Andric and that is a fine core of senior players.
However, there lies another issue: Wahda are top-heavy with strikers. They are the only club who regularly play two Emirati strikers; most club's don't start one. The strikers Marcelo Oliviera (Mouloungui's stand-in) and Waigo have often started on the wing this season.
As a result, Wahda usually had four forwards, but instead of giving them attacking flair, it left them unbalanced. They scored as many as they conceded, 38.
If the next full-time manager can address that imbalance, take advantage of having decent Emirati forwards and perhaps sign a creative foreign midfielder, Wahda could be title contenders next season.
Follow us @SprtNationalUAE