A LIVERPOOL MP last night said Merseyside police underestimated the dangers of allowing Saturday's FA Cup tie to be played on a Saturday night.
Riverside MP Louise Ellman spoke out as people across the city said senior officers should have predicted the violence and barred the match from taking place at 5.30pm.
The late start time was blamed for drink-fuelled violence from fans of Everton and Manchester United. All day drinking in the run up to the match was also said to be responsible for United's players being bombarded with missiles by the home fans.
The 5.30pm start time was suggested by the BBC, which showed the match live on television. It was then passed by the police, on the condition that Everton's directors agreed to give around £35,000 towards funding 150 extra officers.
Ms Ellman last night said the police showed a lack of foresight in failing to realise the potential dangers of the emotive game.
She said: "Looking at what happened I think the police need to exercise much more caution in agreeing to late starts.
"I just think that a much fuller assessment has to be made in situations like this. In this case it wasn't. I think the police need to look at their resources and perhaps be more realistic about what is likely to happen."
Carl Roper, spokesman for Everton For Change said: "The police have the power of veto and they should have said no. I can't think of a worse time to have an Everton versus Manchester United game. Why was it allowed to take place?
"It has been frustrating listening to everybody this morning passing the buck. What price the BBC's ratings?"
Meanwhile, Merseyside Police Authority has demanded Chief Constable Bernard Hogan-Howe give a full report into the events.
Police Authority's chairman Cllr Bill Weightman said: "After giving the force a reasonable amount of time to conduct a review, I expect to see a full report on this issue delivered to the community safety and liaison committee of the authority, at which point members will have the opportunity to discuss the future policing of high profile games.
"The Police Authority supports the Chief Constable's decision to call for a review of what happened concerning Saturday's FA cup match, and welcomes talks between the Chief Constable, the BBC, the FA and Everton Football Club."
The BBC, which requested the ratings-grabbing slot for the match, last night defended its position, adding that it would not be changing its policy of asking for 5.30pm slots for games.
A spokeswoman said: "The timing of games is a decision for the police to make - a football match cannot go ahead without police permission. Sky have been televising late matches for years, so this is not a BBC issue."
Yesterday, Mr Hogan-Howe said: "We would have needed to have had very strong evidence that there was going to be trouble at that start time and that we wouldn't have been able to police it for it not to have gone ahead then."
The Chief Constable admitted his force feared speaking out about possible violence before the match started.
He said: "Because of all the concerns about the game the club funded a doubling of police resources."
Wayne Rooney's return to Everton after his bitter split from his boyhood club was marred by clashes on and off the pitch.
Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll, was felled by a coin thrown from the crowd at Goodison Park.
Police have been given TV images from the match, shown live on BBC1, to find the culprits. A mobile phone and plastic bottles were also recovered from the pitch.
Yesterday, people continued to reveal the full horror of what happened on the streets. Hours before the game, eyewitnesses saw bloodied Manchester United supporters getting of a train at Lime Street station, after they had already been involved in scuffles with Leeds fans at Manchester Picadilly Station.
Then, after the game had finished, United fans were met with a torrent of bricks and bottles as they were escorted back to Lime Street along Everton Valley and Scotland Road. The police escort route went past a building site, where ammunition for the hooligans was readily available.
Witnesses said a number of local youths, who had not been at the game but had been drinking throughout the afternoon, arrived to attack the United supporters.
Fans ripped up fences and bricks and threw them into the crowd.
Liverpool Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle last night told the Daily Post he did not think the police were to blame. He said: "This is not the police's fault, it is the fault of the hooligans."
But he said the BBC and the FA should not have allowed the game to go ahead at that time.
He said: "The BBC are driven by commercial considerations but I think safety should be the top priority."
Mr Kilfoyle, whose Liverpool Walton constituency includes Everton's Goodison Park ground, accused the FA of "idiocy" in "rolling over before the BBC on the timing of football matches".
He said the late kick-off "was a major contributory factor in the disgraceful scenes perpetrated by a minority of my constituency on Saturday".
Ian Leyland, secretary of Merseyside Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: "I have spoken to senior officers and I feel assured that in the future earlier kick-offs will be preferred.
"On this occasion, it would have been preferable for the match to have been an early morning start --but I have no doubt that because of the hype surrounding the game, there would have been trouble whatever time is was played."
Merseyside Police said 300-400 hooligans had gone to the game intent on causing trouble anyway.
The force yesterday approached the Football Association and Everton FC for talks on the trouble and the kick-off time. Sports Minister Richard Caborn has questioned the wisdom of late kick-off times and called for a review.
Everton FC condemned the violence and said life bans will be given to anyone identified throwing coins.
A spokesman for the Football Association said: "The FA can confirm that it is in communication with the host clubs and police forces after crowd incidents at the Everton-Manchester United and Burnley-Blackburn FA Cup matches.
"The FA hopes that the individuals involved can be identified and dealt with under the law."
Everton insiders are now worried that the club will be penalised. The club has already received two warnings from the FA this season.