"Nigel's done a terrific job," McClaren told BBC Sport. "I've got full respect for Nigel, his staff, what he's done with the academy with the young players coming through and the style of football they play here.
"For four or five years he's stabilised this club, he's developed this club and he's got it on a sound footing.
"The club decide to change direction to develop that and that's why I'm here and that's football."
McClaren will watch tonight's match against Ipswich Town from the stands before taking full charge of his first game against Leeds United on Saturday.