For the scapegoats of England’s failures on the international scene, rebuilding reputations takes time. Gareth Southgate felt the heat after his penalty miss sent England out of the 1996 European Championship the country hosted, and David Beckham was vilified for his red card at the 1998 World Cup, suffering at the hands of merciless fans for the entirety of the following season. Phil Neville saw the finger pointed at him after Euro 2000 where he conceded a decisive spot kick, while Wayne Rooney was deemed the guilty party at the 2006 World Cup for his dismissal against Portugal. All four bounced back, but it was no easy feat.

And new Nottingham Forest manager Steve McClaren is aiming to make it five out of five by repairing his reputation among English fans. His instantly forgettable spell as England manager saw the team lurch from one disappointment to the next, including a woeful 0-0 draw at home to Macedonia. The final nail in the coffin came courtesy of a 3-2 defeat to Croatia at Wembley that confirmed England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008. The lasting image of McClaren’s spell at the helm was of the former Middlesbrough boss standing helplessly under an umbrella in the lashing rain as England’s fate was sealed.

Once he reached the safety of the tunnel, a downpour of criticism headed his way. This time, it was the manager, not a player, who took the blame for England’s failure. The English FA acted quickly, announcing the next day that they had sacked McClaren, who called it “the saddest day in my career”.

The mention of McClaren’s name instantly brings his England setbacks to mind for the majority of the country’s fans, who still consider him to be a managerial flop, but the former Hull midfielder’s CV tells a different story.

No one can dispute his struggles as England boss, but the facts show that this was a rare blemish – a big one admittedly – on McClaren’s record. For a start, the 50-year-old left his mark on some of the game’s very best players during his time at Manchester United as Sir Alex Ferguson’s number two. Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane and the Neville brothers have all been quick to praise McClaren’s approaches over the years. Keane had notoriously high standards during his playing career, yet he would later admit: “I was lucky enough to have played under Steve and he is an outstanding coach. He is now proving to be a very good manager.”

After leaving Old Trafford, McClaren earned plaudits as Middlesbrough boss, winning the Carling Cup in 2004 and reaching the UEFA Cup final in 2006. It is easy to forget that during this time he was the most impressive English manager in the game. Then, after the England debacle, McClaren began the rebuilding process at FC Twente, where he plotted his way to the Dutch title in his second season after the side finished as runners-up in his first. A brief stint at Wolfsburg ended in disappointing fashion last season, but he was in the Bundesliga long enough to show his quality and, at one point, reach the top six.

And now the Englishman has landed at Nottingham Forest – the latest stop on the McClaren comeback tour. He arrives with league and cup silverware under his belt, has managed in three different countries and is ready to face the English media once more. At first glance, Forest seems a perfect fit – a big club with a rich history and a talented young core; McClaren has a real opportunity to compete for promotion in his first season.

Forest football consultant David Pleat summed it up perfectly as McClaren’s appointment was revealed: “The thing about Steve McClaren is that he’s tested himself. He’s fought back terrifically well to get a championship [with FC Twente] against PSV and Ajax.

“I think he’s done his miles and certainly deserves the opportunity to be at a club that is well run, progressive and will get into the Premier League. How soon? No one knows. They’ve just missed it for two years running, but they’re close and I’m sure the club is in good hands.”

As for McClaren himself, he is more than ready for the challenge. “It’s great to be back,” he admitted. “I know a lot about the squad and I can’t wait to get to work and look at the players and talk to the scouting department to see what it will take for us to improve.”

Under former boss Billy Davies, Forest twice went close to cracking the promotion code, only to slip into the playoff mayhem and suffer the harsh pain of semi-final elimination. The playoffs have not been kind to Forest over the past decade, but that could all change under McClaren. A good tactician and man-manager, he will also give the club’s talented youngsters a fair chance. Adding some more experienced figures to the dressing room would be a plus, however Forest’s drive and enthusiasm comes from the young core of Lewis McGugan, Luke Chambers and Chris Cohen, among others. And of course a proven Championship goalscorer like Rob Earnshaw is a bonus, too.

McClaren’s journey back to the top must inevitably end with a return to the Premier League, reminding the world that his struggles with England were the exception, not the rule. Come 6th August, Forest will welcome Barnsley on the opening day of a season that could well end in long-awaited promotion. Just over six weeks to go – but for a revitalised McClaren, the countdown is already on.