yeah but that is only in terms of the later fight scenes (which only really began it's discrepancies during the GMG arc) and only SOME of the plot elements. All in all the story was quite well done for the most part, and as you said did have potential and COULD have been even better than it actually was. All Mashima needed to do was at least put some more thought into it and give a better structure and conclusion for the fights, instead of what was given (fights ended by the power of friendship). Conclusion: I still love this series very much and it is still an all time favourite, but could have been so much more had there been some more creative process thrown in other than "Well, this happened and this is the excuse for it".
Honestly have not been impressed with how nearly all the fight scenes have ended since....I'd say since the first time skip, it's all the same, looks bleak, but lets overcome with the power of nakama, the story cliff hangers all started with hints of being more important and potentially game changing but nearly all ended up being disappointing, and over hyped.
Even the reveals that lived up to the hype were not exploited to their fullest, and in many ways were just thrown in for the wow factor but made no impact on the over arching story, Autumn (I think that's his name) was a great reveal but had no impact to the story line, Even Natsu and Zeref being brother, or even Natsu being reborn using forbidden magics, and being from the past were all under utilised and didn't add much to the story in the end, they were all plotlines that felt were thrown in as a maybe something can be made out of it, if the mangaka could be bothered which he never did.
This manga will always stand out to me as having great dynamics between the main cast, and the relationships between the charactors, and the first half of the manga pre-timeskip. but from a story telling standpoint it will be behind both Naruto and Bleach and pretty much all big manga's as a major disappointment.
Bleach I can sort of forgive because the end had to be rushed and I actually quite liked the last chapter. Naruto will always be a disappointment because the end and the movie undid the whole manga, it ruined the characters, and all the life lessons they learnt throughout the manga. It made the manga pointless for the sake of more milking of the franchise, (Something we don't know he was forced to do or was convinced to do.) Oh and the interviews did not help matters much.
Fairy Tail is a manga that kept it's promise with the relationships with the characters, but felt like they gave up on the story, story branches were added then dropped almost straight away. It was a mess of a manga at the end, and this was by choice, there was no pressure from the higher ups that they were axing the manga, it's the story that lost it's way. So Fairy Tail will sit in this weird spot where I will love it for the characters it gave us and early premise, but will be a bland unimaginative end that will be a massive disappointment. I'll remember it fondly and with a hint of bitterness.