Who is Tanya Oxtoby? A Deep Dive Into Northern Ireland’s New Manager

Who is Tanya Oxtoby? A Deep Dive Into Northern Ireland’s New Manager
Alanna Cunnane
Alanna Cunnane

With the ground-breaking match between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium looming on Saturday September 23rd, HerSport.ie are looking into the background of NI’s newest manager, posing the question- Who is Tanya Oxtoby?

Having failed to qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, Kenny Shiels departed from his role as head coach of Northern Ireland in January of this year, leaving lingering questions as to who would go on to fill the vacancy. 

That spot was ultimately only filled as freshly as four weeks ago by none other than Australian woman, and recent Chelsea women’s assistant coach, Tanya Oxtoby, on a four year term.


Tanya Oxtoby’s background


Born in Wickham, Western Australia in June 1982, Tanya Oxtoby started playing football early in her childhood. Her father was the coach of the local boys team, on which her brother played, and she quickly became involved in the game as a result.

"My dad basically just said you either come and join in or you can sit in the car" the 41 year old told the Northern Ireland channels in her first interview.

"Where I grew up was sort of 44 degrees every single day, really hot so, obviously sat in the car for one session and then made the decision to go out and play, and never really looked back from there!"

"I played all sports when I was younger but football kind of got narrowed down as I got older and yeah, I've loved it ever since" she continued.

Claiming centre back as her position, she went on to play for the Northern Redbacks, Northern NSW Pride, the Western Waves and Perth Glory, before moving overseas to join Doncaster Rovers and Everton.

As she says herself it took her "a long time to adjust" to that, but that she did, always with an eye to coaching, even during her playing career.

Tanya Oxtoby’s previous managerial roles

"I sort of got into coaching more as a role model than anything else" Tanya Oxtoby says.

"We did a lot of youth coaching so the natural progression for me as I came to the end of my playing career was to go into coaching was pretty organic really."

As a manager then, Oxtoby began with Nottingham Forest, before heading back down under to be involved with Perth Glory once again, before taking up the role as Australia U20 assistant coach in 2014.

She then was reacquainted with the northern hemisphere in 2016 when she acted as assistant coach at Birmingham City, but it was her next club, Bristol City, where she truly tasted success. There she won two manager of the month awards in her first season and finished in 6th in the 2018/19 season.

Later Oxtoby progressed from there to Scotland's assistant manager and finally as Chelsea's assistant manager in the same year, serving under the world renowned Emma Hayes.

During her spell with the Blues they won two WSL titles and three FA Cups.

Tanya Oxtoby’s coaching style

Given her extensive experience that's no doubt topped off with the dusting of class that would have been bestowed upon Tanya Oxtoby in working with Hayes, she'll be aspiring to bring a culture of success now to Northern Ireland.

Euro 2022 marked the country's first ever major tournament, but if her words are anything to go by, Oxtoby is prepared to ensure it won't be their last. In her first press conference she stressed the importance of outlining the bigger picture to her players, trickling that down to an everyday reality in training and on matchdays.

"For me, the one biggest learning from that environment is making sure you have got your processes right," she says.

"If you get that right, then players understand what they need to be doing, and then it is the consistency of applying those and making sure they are prepared for everything that can happen on the pitch and make good decisions.

"For me, having worked with Emma for a long time, and the greatest learning I took from her is you don't get a day off in football, and every single day you have to have your standards right up there or you get found out."

Emphasising the value in "keeping standards high", her impact on the squad and the wider structural systems for Northern Ireland will be of key interest.

Tanya Oxtoby’s long term vision

Working in tandem with NI's Director of Football Angela Platt and their Technical Director Aaron Hughes, Tanya Oxtoby appears very committed to the long term project of the team.

Honing in on how she may help with the transition of players such as  Julie Nelson, Marissa Callaghan and Rachel Furness to live post football, she also has touched on how she wishes to improve the technical standards of the small pool available to her.

In particular she seems keen on addressing how NI players might advance more in a club football setting, both domestically and individually to leagues such as the WSL.

Tanya Oxtoby’s view on the Republic of Ireland’s management tribulations

So how is Tanya Oxtoby shaping up for her first game in charge, versus the Republic of Ireland at the Aviva Stadium?

With Eileen Gleeson temporarily taking the reigns of her opposition on an interim basis after Vera Pauw was let go, this will be the first look at both of their imprints on their respective teams.

Oxtoby however insists she isn't getting distracted with the attention surrounding who will be at the helm of the Republic of Ireland in the future.

"What don’t want to get drawn into what’s going on there, but obviously it is never nice when someone loses their job" she says, speaking with the Belfast Telegraph.

"Our focus is on us and our game. We have a lot to do, in that first camp I want to try and embed some of the things that we want to work on. It’s a great challenge and something we can all get excited about.”

For build up and updates about the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland match at the Aviva Stadium taking place on Saturday September 23rd at 1 o'clock stay tuned to HerSport.ie.

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