You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

That’s one of the poignant quotes from 2008 blockbuster film, The Dark Knight.

Though somewhat extreme, the meaning behind the statement can in some ways be translated into the world of football.

Back in 2014, then Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard was riding a wave.

He’d been labelled as an American hero after a number of standout performances in that summer’s World Cup, the most remarkable of which coming against Belgium where he made 15 saves in his nation’s courageous 2-1 defeat.

His display even earned him a phone call from President Barack Obama.

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At this point, Howard was eight years into his stay at Goodison Park, and it had on the whole been a successful period for the American.

He’d made the number one spot his own, was revered by fans and a key player in a number of successful campaigns ending in European qualification.

Yet there was no getting away from the fact that at 36, he was headed towards his twilight years.

With hindsight, this period would have probably been the ideal window for him to return to the MLS, as he eventually did two years later.

He remained at Goodison Park however, and very quickly his form started to decline. Errors and below-par performances became all too regular, and the regard he was held in by Everton fans quickly started to diminish.

A growing conflict between both he and the fans developed, leading to a collective relief when he was finally dropped and replaced by Joel Robles as number one across the final months of his last campaign.

In the years that passed, that toxicity between him and the fans subsided, and love from both sides again reappeared.

It's a story that acts as a warning of the repercussions of outstaying one's welcome.

And right now, it’s a situation that Howard’s former teammate Seamus Coleman finds himself in.

For the best part of a decade, Coleman has been a real fan-favourite at Everton.

His commitment and drive over the years have been complemented by a genuine talent that has on occasions put him right in the conversation to be considered as one of the best right-backs in the Premier League.

His loyalty, turning down potential moves to clubs like Manchester United only further enhanced his status amongst Everton fans.

However, with each passing season, his influence and abilities have slowly dwindled.

Though still a competent player, now at 33, he looks way below the level needed to compete adequately in the Premier League on a weekly basis. Especially in a diverse and demanding role such as a wing-back.

It’s just as much the club’s fault as his own.

They failed to bring in not only an adequate replacement, but even suitable cover, meaning that manager Rafael Benitez has no real choice but to keep playing the Republic of Ireland international over and over.

Indeed, Coleman could still have a part to play but with Jonjoe Kenny clearly out of favour, he's not able to be rested or phased slowly out of the team for a younger player, in the way that Leighton Baines was used after the signing of Lucas Digne in 2018.

And make no mistake, the Irishman will remain a key presence behind-the-scenes, with his experience and leadership qualities still highly important at the club.

Nevertheless, we’re seeing him being targeted by teams every week, and his error in Wednesday’s derby came at a crucial time, giving Mohamed Salah a free run at goal where the Liverpool star effectively put an end to the contest.

With January looming, and Everton struggling, it’s crucial new recruits are brought in. And right at the top of the list should be a new right-back.

Everton need better now, but they also can't allow Coleman’s legacy to be tarnished like it currently risks being.