Players with 0 years remaining on their contract is normal as it's the start of a new season and the transfer window is still open.
The best team tactic by far is 5-3-2 sweeper with nearest man marking but not long ball, long ball is best for 5-4-1 formation.
Only use hard tackling if the ref's reputation is soft...you can see the info on the ref before you start the game.
Start the game as Halifax, they are the best and if you play doubles you can also milk your 2nd team for players and money, i normaly start the game as Halifax & Dagenham.
I've lost years to this game but it's the best manager sim out there for me.