By ESPNSTAR.com staff
Redknapp was mentioned as a possible candidate for the vacant managerial post at Chelsea following the shock sacking of Roberto di Matteo over the week. Ultimately, the job went to the ex-Liverpool manager who has been hired on an interim basis.
It is believed that Benitez will only be required for the duration of the season as owner Roman Abramovich appears keen to sign Pep Guardiola following the end of the former Barcelona coach's one-year sabbatical.
But Benitez could have a tough time even lasting the distance as he remains a fiercely unpopular figure at Stamford Bridge.
When he was manager of Liverpool, he had come out strongly against Chelsea's model of development and had also been critical of the club's supporters. Moreover, he had also masterminded several controversial wins over the Blues in the Champions League as well.
Redknapp, however, believes that the former Valencia coach has the chance to make another first impression during Chelsea's upcoming league game against Manchester City. He feels that the relationship between the coach and fans can improve if Benitez starts churning out the results required to help Chelsea remain a force for contention in the Premier League.
"I know Benitez isn't a popular choice, but the ball's in his court," Redknapp was quoted as saying in the Sun.
"I have always said the punters do not really care who's in charge, so long as the team is winning and the points are racking up. You could have Saddam Hussein in charge of your club and if results went well they would be chanting his name.
"So Rafa has to start by beating City - if he manages that, it'll be a different story."
The former Portsmouth manager also believes that Di Matteo's departure was linked with the continual absence of John Terry. The Chelsea captain is currently sidelined after suffering an injury in the draw against Liverpool two weeks back and missed four games due to suspension as well.
It was during this same period that Chelsea suffered losses against West Brom and Manchester United which proved costly for the Italian's job security.
"Those three [Frank Lampard, Terry and Ashley Cole] are leaders, organisers and so much comes from them being out there.
"And the loss of JT, in particular, is massive.
"People just don't realise how important he is to Chelsea. He's their Tony Adams, their heart and soul. When he's not there it's a different team. Every side has one, a leader.
"I remember when I was at West Ham and we were playing Manchester United, who had Jaap Stam at the back. The man was a colossus, an absolute monster, and we were getting the runaround and trailing 2-0 at half-time.
"When we came out for the second half someone said Stam had gone off, he'd done his hamstring I think, and I said to Frank Lampard ‘we could get something out of this'.
"We ended up drawing 2-2 and missing an open goal right at the end.
"That's how important one figure can be. It was Stam that day - it's Terry at Chelsea.
"So the big battle for Benitez to win is getting him back in action as quickly as possible.
"And let's be honest, it's not as though he has a great deal to turn around.
"It's not as though they're adrift and haven't won for 10 games.
"It's up to Benitez now and he's big enough to take any stick on the chin.
"But as I said - that could have all turned on its head by Sunday teatime."