This week introduces the football phrase ‘squeaky-bum time‘. You can understand more about this phrase by reading the transcript below. You can also find many more examples of soccer vocabulary by going to our football cliches page here and our huge football glossary here. If you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at

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Squeaky-bum time

This week’s English for football is squeaky-bum time. This phrase was made famous by Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson in 2008. He used it to describe the very tense, nervous, finish to the league title race against Arsenal. Squeaky is an adjective derived from to squeak; to make a short, high pitched sound. Bum is a casual word for a person’s bottom or behind. When squeaky and bum are combined it makes an image of someone on the edge of their seat, moving forwards and backwards in a nervous manner. This is exactly what happens when a match is nearing the final whistle and your team is winning, but only by a small margin, you are literally on the edge of you seat. So, squeaky-bum time is that time at the end of the season or a game when your team has nearly achieved the title or victory (or safety if at the bottom of the table), but it isn’t decided yet, it’s close but not finished yet. It’s squeaky-bum time for Inter fans in Italy. They are three points ahead, but there are two games left. They should win the title, but they could lose it. It’s squeaky-bum time.

  • Example: ‘It’s squeaky-bum time for Manchester United — and Solskjaer can’t wait’ (The Athletic, 25 July 2020)
  • Example: ‘Squeaky bum time’ for Liverpool FC boss Rafa Benitez: In the midst of his team’s ultimately futile title challenge last season, Rafael Benitez was asked how he felt ahead of what rival Sir Alex Ferguson memorably defined as “squeaky bum time”. (Daily 2010 March 27)
  • Example: ‘Ryan Reynolds learns meaning of ‘squeaky bum time‘ ahead of Wrexham v Sheffield clash’ ( February 2023)


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