"In English, I think the word would be 'innovative'."

Glen Riddersholm's vocabulary is flawless, and so too is his grasp of his Midtjylland's defining attribute. This tiny club, with no major honours in its short, 16-year history, is heading into the home straight of the Danish title race with a commanding nine-point lead. Yet that position, however unlikely, is not what makes them one of football's most fascinating success stories.

Midtjylland's current pre-eminence is, after all, simply a by-product of their innovation. "In everything we do, we look to be creative and go beyond the old, conservative ways of looking at football," Riddersholm, the club's coach, told FIFA.com. "Our aim as a club is to build a culture that's about more than just winning the next game. We don't have the money of an FC Copenhagen or a Brondby, so we need to be better in other aspects. And we've looked and worked on those aspects one by one.

"That's the club's outlook and I love it because, as a coach, I don't like to walk in other people's footsteps. I prefer to create my own path and find new solutions. If you look at society these days, certainly in Denmark, young people often don't need to work too hard to be successful - they're quite spoiled. But that doesn't fit well with professional football, where there is always pressure is to win and to be 100 per cent mentally ready in every moment. So what we look to do is analyse the many factors that go towards being successful and to approach the game in new ways. And what's been really enjoyable has been seeing those thoughts - all our ideas and philosophies - transferred into actions."

It helps, of course, that Riddersholm is surrounded by like minds, with Midtjylland's youthful chairman Rasmus Ankersen and majority shareholder Matthew Benham - the latter a former hedge fund manager and professional gambler - just as committed to breaking new ground. Yet laying claim to a spirit of innovation, while laudable, is ambiguous. It is in the details, the nitty gritty, where Midtjylland's plan becomes apparent, and where comparisons to 'Moneyball' - baseball's analytics-inspired fairy tale - are inevitably drawn.

"I'll give you an example," said Riddersholm, who began his career in youth coaching with the Danish national team and his current employers before graduating to the senior job. "When Matthew took over the club, we set up a fantastic scouting system, which focuses on over 60 different leagues. Within those leagues, we look at players from a statistical, mathematical point of view. Normally you go out as a coach or a scout, see a player, fall in love with him and convince yourself that you can adapt him to your club. But that is always subjective, whereas the system we have is analytical and based on what we call 'key performance indicators'.

"But there's an additional element to that of making sure that we meet and try to get to know every potential signing. That's to make sure that not only do the statistics stack up for these players, but that they also have the mental and human qualities we are looking for. And since this system started, every single player we have signed has been a success. That's extremely unusual.

As a coach, I don't like to walk in other people's footsteps. I prefer to create my own path and find new solutions.

Glen Riddersholm

"We look to find a balance between the two: the analytical and the human. For example, we work with behaviour profiles. Those look at how our players are in their family life, in their social life, to see how they are developing off the field as well as on it. That's so important, and players who've come here from abroad - from Germany, France, Belgium - really like the way we do things. They can feel that there is a respect for them, that we see them as individuals and try to make them feel comfortable both in football and in their family lives. And it has helped us too because we've seen that players coming in make an impact right away; there's not the months of adaptation you often see with other teams."

Yet identifying, acquiring and nurturing talented and undervalued players is only part of the story. A forensic level of detail is also applied in pre-match preparations and post-match analysis, with nothing left to chance. "Before every game, I receive a huge amount of data and analysis on the team we're going to face," said Riddersholm. "It's the same at half-time. When the whistle blows, I'll receive a text message with various statistics about the pattern of the game and the performance of the teams and players. There's always something to work with and, as a coach, I have all the details I could possibly need.

"It's the same for the players. We have introduced new performance talks, which focus on the mental side, and detailed physical screening with our health department. That means as well as working with injured players to get them fit again, we analyse the players' bodies to try to make sure the injuries don't occur in the first place. And the results have been very good; injuries are down markedly from previous seasons."

That same diligent and analytical approach has yielded even more spectacular results in another area: set pieces. Across Europe, only one team - Spanish champions Atletico Madrid - can compete with Midtjylland's dead ball record, which averages almost a goal-a-game. Again, this is no accident.

"It's something we've focused on closely for the past three-and-a-half years," said Riddersholm. "We brought over a coach from England who specialises in how to strike the ball and he works not only with the young players, but the first-team guys too. We've also brought in specialists from other sports who've given us advice and the players have embraced that. Then, because they see that it's successful, you get a kind of snowball effect. With quite a small level of effort in this particular area, we've been able to see that we can achieve great things. And it's another string in our bow that helps us compete against bigger teams which we otherwise couldn't come close to."

Those opponents, and the challenges they present, will become greater still should Riddersholm succeed in leading Midtjylland into the group phase of next season's UEFA Champions League. And yet, while that is unquestionably his ambition, the key objective is to continue building, staying true to the principals that have brought the club this far.

Under the current regime at least, that seemed assured. Ankersen, for example, recently vowed to The Guardian that Riddersholm "will never be sacked based on our league position". A greater threat to continued stability, it seems, is that covetous clubs are already circling the coach who has overseen the Midtjylland miracle.

As Riddersholm said: "It's true that there is interest from many sides and, while I'm very happy here, I do have big ambitions. I'd like to work abroad and think my untraditional way of working and philosophy would work well in other environments. But first I want to become a champion and, hopefully, to compete in the Champions League. I think we will sell a couple of players in the summer, but I know from speaking to the board that we're going to be stronger next year no matter what. We'll be looking to show people in Europe that Midtjylland is a club that wants to make a big impression and is not just talking, but acting.

"And whatever happens, we will stick to our plan. It's a plan we believe in, so even if we have a spell where things aren't going quite so well on the field, we will remain calm. I look around the world and see football clubs changing all the time but, again, we want to do something different. And we will do. We know we're on the right path."