Marcelo Bielsa says Tyler Roberts ‘has taken a step forward’ with Leeds

Marcelo Bielsa believes Tyler Roberts can prove his critics wrong and emerge as one of Leeds’ star performers in the Premier League.

Roberts was influential after stepping off the bench as Leeds clinched their first top-flight win of the season to climb out of the bottom three by beating Watford 1-0 at Elland Road.

The Wales forward has yet to win over a large section of Leeds fans, but his touch and movement caught the eye on Saturday before he hit the crossbar with a spectacular late volley.

Bielsa said: “He still hasn’t been able to link his qualities with his performances. I, in particular, have a lot of confidence in his resources.

“I feel that he is a player who can unbalance and I hope he can evolve and take a leading role in our team. He has taken a step forward.”

Leeds dominated from start to finish against a disappointing Watford, whose head coach Xisco Munoz paid a high price on Sunday morning by being sacked.

Bielsa’s side should have wrapped up victory by a bigger margin after Spain defender Diego Llorente marked his return from injury by turning home Raphinha’s 18th-minute corner.

The Leeds boss expressed relief after his side snapped their six-game winless league run and picked out other players for special mention, including deadline-day signing Dan James.

“Every time he plays, he plays better than the previous game,” said Bielsa, who revealed fellow winger Jack Harrison is struggling with an abdominal strain.

Leeds United v Watford – Premier League – Elland Road
Dan James caught the eye of Marcelo Bielsa against Watford (Mike Egerton/PA)

“(James) shows resources and qualities that we know he has and he’s going to become an important, special contribution to the team.”

Watford said in a club statement on Sunday that recent results “strongly indicate a negative trend at a time when team cohesion should be visibly improving” when announcing Spaniard Munoz’s departure.

The Hornets remain one point and two places above Leeds in the table having beaten Aston Villa and Norwich following promotion.

Goalkeeper Ben Foster admitted his side’s disjoined display at Elland Road had been their worst of the season.

He told Watford’s official website: “It was the whole game that went wrong, we weren’t at the races, we knew what Leeds were about.

Leeds United v Watford – Premier League – Elland Road
Ben Foster said Watford ‘weren’t at the races’ at Elland Road (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We knew they’d be pressing us all the time, high tempo and we spoke about it all week in training.

“We got to the match and we didn’t do a single thing we wanted to do, which was concerning.”

But the former England keeper does not share the club board’s view that results this season had warranted alarm.

He added: “I don’t think you can judge it solely on today, we’ve been very competitive in every game we played, maybe should have had a point or two more, but I think that’s a promising sign.”