Not a kneejerk reaction, but the decision to bring in Downing before we secured an alternative to AC was (IMO) a really bad move. With five players in the squad able to play in the same position, I think it was almost a vanity buy. Maiga did nothing last season and nothing in pre-season to suggest he had got to grips with our style of play or the premier league.
If we had kept Carlton (yes, I know he rejected the contract offer), that would have allowed us to hawk Maiaga around more and maybe got him off the St Ettiene or wherever it was showing an interest. That could have allowed us to make the move for a decent # 2, with Carlton as backup (# 3).
Same really goes for the Diarra situation. OK, we couldn't have foreseen that he'd get crocked, but we saw enough last season, attitude wise, and this season, performance wise, to want to ship him out - and there were rumours of interest. That would have let us get Sane in.
If we hadn't brought in Downing, I don't think we would have seen Vaz Te getting a strop.
Plus side - we got Roland and Morrison seems to have matured. Carroll on a permanent deal is good, but I think if we hadn't got him, we would have ended up with one of either Ba or Bony (maybe both). Diame staying put is good, but maybe just proves that he's actually at our level, with nobody at the next level really interested, even for £3.5m.
Overall, as a squad, we're probably a bit stronger than last season, but could have been a lot better.