IT is a wonder Rasmus Ankersen has any hair left, let alone sporting some of the finest locks in football management.
The Dane must be one of the busiest people in the game, splitting his time as Brentford’s director of football and chairman of FC Midtjylland in his homeland.
You would not know it though as the stylish 36-year-old with the slicked blond hair and movie-star stubble seems as cool as the designer rucksack on his back.
Yet Ankersen, admits: “It is very stressful.
“My life quality has gone down a lot since I got involved in two clubs because it’s much more painful to lose than when you get pleasure from winning, and it’s difficult to get through a weekend without losing points!”
Ankersen has also found time to publish several books, including 2012’s The Gold Mine Effect, a work that promises to crack the secrets of high performance.
The former Midtjylland player, whose career was cut short by injury, has seemingly used those findings to his advantage when you consider the upward curves of his two clubs.
Midtjylland won the Danish Cup last season, the year before they won the Superliga. Not bad for a club about to begin the 21st campaign of its existence.
As for Brentford, they look in with their best chance ever of winning promotion to the Premier League.
Pontus Jansson is convinced as much, having joined from Leeds last summer despite many presuming he would move to the top flight.
Ankeresen feels the Sweden star’s signing serves as a statement – both to the rest of the league but also to the Bees current squad.
Asked if he was surprised to land Jansson, Ankersen replied: “Maybe we were a little bit. You might think why would he go to Brentford? If he was to stay in the Championship, why not go to one of the traditional big teams?
“But I think he’s looked through that and saw Brentford has a really exciting squad, an exciting philosophy. They’re already one of the best teams in the Championship.
“That was good confirmation for us and I think it’s also been a signal internally to the players that it’s not a typical Brentford signing.
“He adds something else: more a backbone of the squad, experienced leadership.
“I know there have been some question marks about his character but we really like his character.
“We’ve done a lot of digging on this. We spoke to people who shared dressing rooms with him. All those things. We talked to him as well and tested some of the assumptions.
“We can really make him flourish even more in our environment.”
Jansson’s signature did raise eyebrows.
But Brentford would not be Brentford without balancing the books – and they more than made up for the £5.5million fee with the £12m they received from Aston Villa for Ezri Konsa.
And that model will not change – not while financially savvy and statistics-favouring owner Matthew Benham is in charge.
The Bees, like many clubs, work at a big operational loss every year, not helped by a low commercial revenue.
So it is up to Ankersen and fellow co-director of football Phil Giles to rake in £12-15m profit every year by signing undervalued talent, honing them and selling then on.
The model has seen the likes of Konsa, Chris Mepham (£15m to Bournemouth) and Scott Hogan (£9m to Aston Villa) bring in big money in recent years.
It also means that whoever the coach is under relatively less pressure, so long as he is carrying out the job tasked by Ankersen and Co, who put less stock on the role.
Thomas Frank, who succeeded Aston Villa-bound Dean Smith in October, would have been on thin ice at other clubs after losing eight of his first ten games in charge.
But Ankersen explained: “I always say that coaches get too much credit when they win and too much blame when they lose. There are so many other factors people don’t see.
“When we went on that really bad run coming up to Christmas, we looked through and said, ‘Listen, we lost eight games with one goal, that’s pretty unlucky. A lot of games we should have won’.
“There was something about the quality of players and a softness in defence that had less to do with tactics and more to do with recruitment, actually.
“So there was a lot of underlying factors which we thought contributed to this.
“We’re not a club that is all about recruits or the manager, we have a strategy and it’s his job to execute the strategy. As long as we’re happy with the way he’s doing that, he’s the coach.
“We know there will be big swings, because of randomness, injuries and lots of different uncontrollables.”
So could this be THE season for the Bees, as so many are predicting?
It would be fitting if this term, Brentford’s final one at Griffin Park before they move to their new 17,250-seater home down the round, coincided with promotion to the big league.
Speaking at Stamford Bridge for a TransferRoom event, Ankersen replied: “I don’t know, could be. We try to be ambitious every year.
“We know it’s going to be tough so we’re not going to sit here and say, ‘It’s going to be this year’. We try to improve all the time and we hope that will be enough to one day get to the Premier League.
“But it’s not that we say, ‘We go all-in this year or all in next year’. We do it in a sustainable way. We build a business that next year will be profitable. We have come a long way.
“It’s organic. It’s not because the owner has injected cash to close the gap, it’s been driven a lot by player trading and commercial revenue.
“With the new stadium coming, we’re going to take one step at a time, we’re not going to try to jump ten steps and if we don’t succeed, find ourselves in a situation where we are close to being bankrupt. That’s not going to happen at Brentford.”
Like their director of football, there is substance as well as style to the Bees’ model.
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