This summer they have signed the Danish defender Kian Hansen, who started 28 league games for Nantes in Ligue 1 last season, and the Austria Wien winger Daniel Royer, who is also a full Austrian international, thanks to their mathematical models. They will be worth keeping a close eye on in the year ahead. “Not everything we do is perfect,” admits Steinlein. “Sometimes we find that two plus two equals five. But the computer guys have given us a new way of thinking.”
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In July 2014, Matthew Benham (owner of English Championship side Brentford) became the majority shareholder of Midtjylland's parent company FCM Holding. In the 2014–15 season, they won the championship in the Danish Superliga.
Midtjylland also employ Bartek Sylwestrzak, a specialist kicking coach, to work with their best players from under-14 level to the first team. Twice a month he analyses how each player strikes the ball and devises training programmes that players work on in their spare time. Cynics will scoff. But if Jonny Wilkinson felt he benefited from a kicking coach is it so outlandish that footballers might do the same?
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The fresh thinking extends to psychology. Sviatchenko, the team’s best defender, believes that using the mind coach Rene Petersen – whose time at the club predates Benham – has made a big difference. “He has helped me a lot,” he says. “As a 19-year-old I was asking myself: ‘What I am fundamentally as a defender. Am I John Terry or am I David Luiz? And when does Good Erik and Bad Erik appear?’ He helped with that.”
In 2008, Danish centre-back Simon Kjær, a talent of the academy, was sold to Palermo for a transfer fee of approximately DKK30 million (€4M). In 2010, Sune Kiilerich, another talent of the academy, was sold to Sampdoria, while Winston Reid, an academy product and New Zealand international, was sold to West Ham United for DKK32 million (€4.26M). In 2016, vice-captain Erik Sviatchenko was sold for £1.5 million to Celtic.
“Riddersholm had been with the club for four years and was well liked by the players,” he says. “They aren’t happy that he has gone. The next few weeks will be a crucial test for Benham and Ankersen because the strong team chemistry helped win them their first title ahead of schedule.”
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Opgøret mod Viborg handler ikke kun om tekniske færdigheder. Den har også en mental dimension, som er afgørende i jagten på de tre point
In 2000, Midtjylland were promoted to the top-flight Danish Superliga after a season in which the team had gathered more points than any other team in the history of the first division.
Much of what the club do is not rocket science, however. The players get homework on DVD or a USB stick. They eat healthy diets and almost never drink or eat sweets during the season – something that sounds obvious but it is not always common. When the Brentford youth player Montell Moore joined Midtjylland on loan he asked why there were no sweets in the dressing room, as there were in London.
FC Midtjylland (Danish: [ˈmid̥jylanˀ], "Central Jutland") is a Danish professional football club based in Herning and Ikast in the midwestern part of Jutland. The team was a result of a merger between Ikast FS (which also includes tennis, badminton and handball clubs) and Herning Fremad. Midtjylland competes in the Danish Superliga, which it won for the first time in 2015.
Ankersen, though, who also recently took on the role as Brentford’s director of football, admits there is a balancing act between revealing some of what they do without giving too much away. “Matthew likes to go under the radar with our secrets,” he laughs. “But at the same time we want to be known as the two most innovative clubs in Europe, because that way we can more easily attract good players and experts.”
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The two men wanted to unite the football clubs Ikast FS (founded 1935) and Herning Fremad (founded 1918) – clubs that for decades had been strong rivals, but had never played any significant role in Danish football. Ikast FS had some success in the late 1970s and '80s, but that was about it. At least ten years had passed with the two clubs being unable to agree on a merger, but on 6 April 1999, a deal was finalized and announced at a press conference the next day.
Kom tæt på midtbanetalentet Mikkel Duelund hvis navn klingede på The Guardians liste over verdens største talenter fra årgang 1997
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Black Wolves is the official fanclub of FC Midtjylland. It was founded in the beginning in August 1999, as the official fanclub of Ikast FS 1993 "Yellow Flames" changed their name at an extraordinary general meeting. Ultra Boys Midtjylland is the first ultra firm in Midtjylland, established in 2007 and later renamedUltras Midtjylland. In 2014, Midtjyland got its second ultra firm, a youth department called Midtjylland Ungdom.
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FC Midtjylland was founded by Johnny Rune, a carpenter and owner of a private business in the wood-supply industry, and Steen Hessel, an authorized Mercedes Benz dealer.
In 2004, the team moved to a new stadium in Herning with a capacity of approximately 12,000 spectators. Midtjylland was the first Danish club to sell the stadium naming rights to a sponsor, resulting in the name MCH Arena. The stadium's opening match was on 27 Marcch; it proved to be a success, with Midtjylland beating AB 6–0. Five of the goals were scored by Egyptian striker former AB player Mohamed Zidan.
Ankersen is confident, though, that there is a more improvement to come from not only Midtjylland’s players, but also his backroom team of analytics wizards. “Football is very conservative, which means there are a lot of inefficiencies we can exploit,” he says. “And we have only just started the journey.”
Midtjylland have generally built a reputation of finding and developing promising talents.
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The club believe that is not down to chance. Impressively, nearly half of their goals last season came from set pieces, a strike rate that ranked up with Atlético Madrid as the best in Europe. Much of the work is done by the assistant manager Brian Priske – who played for Portsmouth under Harry Redknapp and 24 times for Denmark – who runs the club’s “set-piece lounge”, in which stats, files and video clips are scrutinised and routines devised.
Midtjylland are not yet on the radar of most English football fans, but Benham increasingly is. The 47-year‑old Brentford owner made millions at his company, Smartodds, using mathematical models to predict football results and believes the figures can also provide a vital edge in the transfer market and on the pitch. Brentford’s former management team, Mark Warburton and David Weir, did not buy into that theory. Midtjylland, however, were more amenable – and, arguably, successful.
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FC Midtjyllands Kristoffer Olsson grundlagde en svensk sejr i EM-kvalifikationen, da han stod bag alle tre assists i opgøret mod Estland
In July 2004, Midtjylland was the first Danish club to have its own football academy, similar to that of French side Nantes. The academy attracts players from throughout Denmark, as well as players from a partnering club in Nigeria – F.C. Ebedei. The club has developed a network of over 100 clubs located in the western part of Jutland.