On the one hand, it’s bulldog optimism. Wayne Rooney is set to return to the team for England’s final group game against Ukraine on Tuesday, and having been put up for interview, he’s said the magic words which unleash unbridled expectation.
“I think we’re good enough to win it,” says Rooney. “We’ve got the players.”
Rooney actually said much the same when he spoke to the media shortly before the tournament. At that time the papers judged the public mood to be one of low expectations and a desire not to get carried away. Now, Rooney is pictured staring down the lens with the flag of St George in the background and half a dozen variations on the headline “We can win it”.
But wait, what’s this?
In amongst the back page bravado, there’s the fear – nagging, crippling fear.
Theo Walcott, who came on as a substitute in England’s last match against Sweden and turned the game on its head with a superb cameo display, might not be fit to play.
The winger looked uncomfortable in the latter stages of the match, but the concern arises from a setback in training, and it is believed that he may have aggravated a hamstring injury that he was carrying at the end of the domestic season with Arsenal.
Should we all be in a blind panic? It’s all in the emphasis. Manager Roy Hodgson’s quotes are reported as “Theo had a slight setback in training” in The Times – the word “slight” is a curious omission from the same quotes in The Sun.
Confused? Perhaps England fans can for now simply take solace from the fact that they are not Dutch.
“Discord on Van Marwijk” reports Dutch paper De Telegraaf, with the speculation mounting that despite leading his side to the World Cup final just two years ago, Bert van Marwijk may struggle to remain in the job after a disastrous Euro 2012.
Leaving aside the Euros, in the other piece of back page football news, it looks like there is a clear favourite for the Tottenham job in Andre Villas-Boas – and there’s an equally clear reaction against it.
“Spurs stars in AVB revolt” screams The Sun, saying that Tottenham players fear a repeat of the results the young coach achieved at Chelsea, having heard whispers of his training methods from the Blues players.
In transfer tittle-tattle, the Daily Mail reckon that Luka Modric is on the way out of White Hart Lane, but not to join Manchester United. Real Madrid have emerged as favourites for his signature.
Swansea’s first bit of transfer business under new manager Michael Laudrup could be a move for Sweden striker Markus Rosenberg, who is available on a free transfer from Werder Bremen (Daily Mail).
And finally, the Daily Mirror links Aston Villa with a move for French left-back Massadio Haidara, currently at Nancy – and West Ham with a cut-price bid for Joselu, the Real Madrid striker who is struggling for game time with Jose Mourinho’s all-star side.