Squeaky Bum Time

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Squeaky Bum Time : Phrases


The tense, final stages of a competition.



This curious phrase emerged in the UK during the final stages of the 2003 Premiership football league, when arch-rivals Arsenal and Manchester United were both in contention to win the league. The coinage is commonly attributed to United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson and is often cited as an example of the notorious 'mind-games' indulged in by him and his opposing manager, Arsene Wenger. The allusion is, of course, to the sound made by squirming in one's seat as one's team's fortunes wax and wane.

The earliest example that I have found of the phrase in print is in a quotation by Ferguson, printed in The Daily Express newspaper, 18th March 2003, in an article headed 'Fergie just can't stop playing his mind games':

"They [Arsenal] have a replay against Chelsea and if they win it they would face a semi-final three days before playing us in the league. But then they did say they were going to win the Treble, didn't they? It's squeaky bum time and we've got the experience now to cope."

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