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Aston Villa’s Owner Tony Xia references Chairman Mao in ‘inspirational’ tweet

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It’s a blessing and a curse, having the owner of your beloved football club on a platform such as twitter.

You get awesome snippets of discussion and insights into the club. We know that Xia wants to help introduce safe standing, change Villa’s badge, ensure the club store is stocked and even change the menu at Villa Park. However, in the same time frame, Villa’s new owner has already paid tribute (although accidentally) to Jimmy Saville and has now chucked an image of Chairman Mao Zedong (or the 1st Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China) into his twitter feed.

The gist of Tony’s tweet is that Villa need to trim the fat of the squad to ensure that there is space for new players. 3 to 4 players will be informed next week and the ‘old days’ of Aston Villa should be left behind.

One can only assume that Brad Guzan, Gabby Agbonlahor and Micah Richards would make up that group.

But what’s the deal with the imagery?

Revolution Tops All

The image Xia tweeted is known as Revolution Tops All (革命理想高于天) which is an Anglicisation of the direct translation - Revolutionary Ideas Higher Than Heaven.

The man in the centre, looking rather jolly is none other than Chairman Mao Zedong.

Whilst it’s not upon myself to cast judgment of a Communist leader on a blog about football, Mao is a divisive figure to say the least. His programmes could have lead to the deaths of up to 70 million people in famine and his critics compare him to both Hitler and Stalin. Mao’s supporters credit him with removing imperialism from China, securing equality in China and promoting China as a leading world power. Regardless of all this, Mao is a theorist, a poet, a strategist and a leader - and one of the most important figures in world history. In China, his image would be inescapable.

Xia is likely showing off his intelligence with this image. The below quote from China Today is a analysis of the painting.

“The romantic effect of Shen’s realist technique and use of contrasting light and shadow singles out Revolutionary Ideals Higher than Heaven as a masterpiece. The oil painting shows Mao Zedong giving a rousing speech that obviously heartens his follow soldiers and acts as a beacon of warmth amid the arduous toil of their journey to safety in the same way as the blazing bonfire around which they gather to rest and listen. The painting pays tribute to Mao and the heroes that marched with him, giving broad scope to the shade of red that epitomizes their spirit.”

So, in this instance would Xia be comparing himself to a leader, giving a rousing speech before the tough times to come?

The painting is based on the ‘Long March’ of China’s Red Army, when Mao’s communists retreated and escaped a crushing assault by marching 5600 miles over rough and difficult mountainous terrain. Mao’s army escaped from the brink of annihilation and sealed a future victory.

In that case, Xia might be referring to last season’s relegation as the crushing assault and that now is the time to embark on a 46 game long march to victory? Villa have to cut players they might need (if they can’t replace them) come the new season which could be another tribulation the Villans have to endure.

It’s all a bit too much, but I’m glad our owner is a smart guy and a fan of art. That being said, it’s very easy to get the wrong end of the stick due to massive cultural differences especially when Soviet imagery is so heavily invoked. At least Xia’s trying to say something positive, and that’s better than anything Lerner managed to come out with.

I guess.