"Getting into the playoffs, challenging getting into the top two and getting into the Premier League. Of course that's the ambition but that's a long way off," the 52-year-old told Sky Sports News.
"We've still got to assess what we have here. They have excellent young players that play a great style of football.
"Nigel has done a great job in that respect and we are coming in here and we have to develop that. That's our job and we have two and a half years to do it."
McClaren will watch from the stands when Derby host Ipswich Town tomorrow night before taking full charge against Leeds United on Saturday.